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Senate fails to strip Trump of emergency powers, ending rare defeat for president

The Senate on Tuesday rejected a bill to strip President Trump of his emergency authority to build a southern border wall, voting 54 to 45 against the resolution.

The vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to issue a veto, which Republicans face after nearly identical legislation was blocked last week, just days after the president used a national emergency to sign three pieces of funding legislation.

The GOP defections marked a rare defeat for President Trump. All but one senator voted for President Trump’s emergency declaration.

“The Senate today has done what my colleagues in the House of Representatives have failed to do: hold the president accountable by denying him unlawful and unauthorized authority to override the will of the people,” said Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat and sponsor of the resolution.

The White House issued a statement on the vote calling it a “political stunt.”

“This resolution would have taken the United States back decades and hurt the credibility of the Congress, the Judiciary, and the Department of Justice by usurping the constitutional power of the President to make decisions about how to protect our country and protect the American people,” the statement said.

The bill, approved by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and introduced by Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen, would have required the president to obtain congressional approval to make a national emergency.

Though the Senate rejected the legislation, Trump and a handful of Republicans have vowed to seek congressional approval.

“They are afraid of getting 200 to 250 votes in the House,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday on MSNBC.

“I’m not going to give up on this until I get our friends in the House to pass a resolution of disapproval. That’s the goal,” he said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in a statement that she opposed the measure because it “sent the wrong message.”

“This country needs to focus on securing our borders and punishing smugglers and narco-terrorists in a humane and practical way,” she said.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the opposition could be viewed as a rebuke of the president.

“At a time when our country needs unity, I vote against this,” he said.

Lawmakers who crossed party lines to vote against the bill faced the wrath of the president and his conservative base.

One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, received a barrage of criticism from outside conservative groups after voting to block the president’s national emergency declaration.

“Perhaps the most surprising thing about this fight is that four moderate Republican senators have just teamed up with Democrats to give President Trump unprecedented power to take money from military construction, veterans programs, and hospitals to build his ridiculous border wall,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that supported Trump’s re-election last year.

Democrats passed a similar resolution earlier this year but it was vetoed by President Trump.

President Trump had said in the days before Tuesday’s vote that the wall would be built “immediately” after the resolution failed. He argued during his State of the Union address that most of the border is already secure and that only the power of the president allows him to build a wall, which he claimed would cost “a fraction” of the Senate’s resolution.

The White House has been ramping up preparations for a possible shutdown ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or risk a partial shutdown, warning Congress that a shutdown will be delayed if Republicans can prevent funding for the border wall.

The vote that failed on Tuesday came the same day as Trump’s reelection campaign announced a run for governor of New York, offering him a possible re-election platform and raising questions about his stance on the border wall.

“I will say that I’ve always said that we would build the wall, but we need to get the wall,” Trump said in New York on Tuesday.