WASHINGTON – Opponents of the Senate who said President Donald Trump had declared a national emergency on the Mexican border were about to have enough votes to triumph. A Republican suggested that the president might be put off by the GOP-led chamber if he does not change course.
Trump's decision "would turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis," senator Senator Lamar Alexander said Thursday. But he stopped just before saying that he would support a resolution blocking the president's decision. If Alexander had promised his vote, it would probably be enough for the Senate to adopt a measure repealing the emergency declaration.
S later addressing the reporters, Alexander, R-Tenn., Warned of what could happen if Trump was not content to use another amount of money to which he would have access without having to declare urgently.
"He can build a wall and avoid a dangerous precedent and I hope he'll do it," Alexander said. "So that would change the voting situation if he agreed to do it."
The Democrats-led House voted on Tuesday to overturn Trump's statement, which bypassed Congress and poured out billions of dollars more for the construction of his wall.
Trump promised to veto the effort to thwart him, and Congress seems pretty much not to have the required two-thirds majority in every room to override his veto. But the confrontation puts the GOP legislators in a delicate position that party leaders hope to soften.
Republicans say that a Senate vote is likely in two weeks, but the exact content of the Senate vote remains unclear.
Several Republicans have said that behind closed doors, they are considering several options for alternative language. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, was among those who suggested provisions making it more difficult for future presidents to divert federal funds to projects of their choice by declaring emergencies.
"I would not be surprised if changes are made," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
While the wall is widely opposed by the public, Trump remains extremely popular with right-wing voters and GOP lawmakers cross it at their peril. Trump again warned the Republicans not to challenge him.
"I really think Republicans who vote against border security and against the wall, I think you know, I'm able to predict things, I think they put themselves in danger," Trump said. in excerpts from an interview with Fox News Channel. The show "Hannity" was released Thursday.
Although congressional Republicans are reluctant to face Trump, many say his decision tramples the constitutional power of Congress to control spending. They say this would set a precedent for future Democratic presidents to declare emergencies for their own purposes, and they fear that it will divert money to prevent the construction of projects of national origin.
Alexander, a three-term senator who plans to retire in 2021, is not afraid of re-election.
"I support what the president wants to do in terms of border security, but not the way he was advised to do it," said Alexander, 78. "It is neither necessary nor wise to turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis linked to the separation of powers."
Presidents declared 58 national emergencies under a 1976 law. But never was declared urgently if Congress had explicitly denied the money in question, Alexander said.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina have announced their intention to vote to derail the declaration of emergency. It would take four Republicans to send the measure to Trump for his promised veto, assuming that the 47 Democrats and their independent allies vote as planned to confront the president.
Under the law, the resolution can not be obstructed and it would only need a majority to adopt the Senate, usually 51 votes.
Congress voted to limit spending on barriers to just under $ 1.4 billion. Trump presented the wall as a central part of his presidential campaign and repeatedly said that Mexico would pay for it, which did not happen.
Trump said he needed additional barriers to prevent drugs, human traffickers and unauthorized immigrants from slipping into the United States. Opponents say that there is no crisis.
The emergency declaration would let Trump divert $ 3.6 billion from military construction to erect more border gates. He is asking other authorities to transfer an additional $ 3.1 billion in construction.
Lawsuits have been filed to derail the statement, which could at least prevent Trump from getting the extra money for months or more.
Meanwhile, Collins and three other moderate senators presented their own resolution blocking the emergency.
The proposal is identical to the measure of a sentence approved by the House. The new legislation allows senators to make their mark on Congress's opposition to Trump's decision.
The other sponsors are Sens. Tom Udall, DND, Jeanne Shaheen, DND, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Only Murkowski will not be re-elected next year.
AP congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Washington, and AP writer David Sharp in Portland, Maine, also contributed.