Sen. Portman Votes Against Trump National Emergency

Sen. Rob Portman speaking on the Senate floor
“Congress, not the president, has the sole authority to determine how to spend taxpayer money.” - Sen. Rob Portman speaking on the Senate floor
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Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman voted Thursday in support of a resolution that nullifies President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In February, the president declared a national emergency in order to redirect billions of federal dollars to build a border wall after Congress voted not to give him the $5.7 billion he requested.

During a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Portman said the president’s declaration sets a dangerous new precedent.

“The use of national emergency powers to circumvent Congress’ explicit decision on funding is unprecedented. No president’s ever used what’s called the National Emergencies Act in this way,” said Portman. “As a result, it opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want and to take funding from other areas Congress has already decided on without Congress’ approval.”

He added that a national emergency declaration gives a president great power.

“A future president could seize industries or control means of communication — think of the internet. A future president may well say climate change is a national emergency and use emergency authorities to implement the Green New Deal.”

Instead, Portman suggested Trump could turn to alternative sources of funding from different departments across the federal government without having to declare a national emergency.

“The president has available to him enough funds right now to begin building all the barriers he has requested without resorting to national emergency funds. I support him using those funds to get to the full $5.7 billion he requested for barriers on the southern border,” Portman said.

The Ohio Republican was one of twelve GOP senators to vote for the Democratic-led resolution. The final vote was 59-41 in favor of blocking the emergency declaration.

Trump has said he will veto the measure. If he does, it would be the first time that he has used a veto during his presidency. It is expected that there will not be enough votes for the two-thirds majority needed to override the president’s veto. 

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