“We are not going to give any president, Democratic or Republican, a blank check to shred the Constitution of the United States,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor before the vote, expertly mixing metaphors.
“Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is your oath of office to the Constitution of the United States?” she asked Republicans.
The vote came down 245-182 in the Democrat-controlled chamber, with 13 Republicans defecting to the left. The vote was nowhere near the two thirds majority that would be needed to overcome a potential Trump veto.
“This is the most consequential vote that we’ve taken with respect to the separation of powers probably in decades and with respect to the balance of power in the constitution between the president and Congress,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, who was the lead sponsor on the resolution, told reporters.
This is the first time since the National Emergencies Act of 1976 that Congress has used their power to disapprove of and ultimately nullify an emergency.
Republican leadership stood by the president.
“There is a national emergency at the southern border that the Democrats will declare today doesn’t exist,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters. “The president has the authority to do it, and we will uphold him.”
The Senate now has 18 days to vote on the resolution, according to a stipulation in the National Emergencies Act. The resolution would need only 60 votes to pass, meaning that only four Republicans would need to side with the Democrats. Three Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Thom Tillis, have already said they will support the resolution.
In a meeting earlier today with Vice President Mike Pence, other Republicans worried about how the national emergency might impact military funds in their states, which could be redistributed to pay for a border wall. Some Senators were sure the government could quickly find more money.
“Let me tell you this, if it’s military construction projects, we’ll back-fill that so fast, as soon as we get there,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chair of the Appropriations Committee, said. “You can rest assured that issue won’t stay alive long.”
When Shelby was asked where that money would come from, he responded like this:“From money! Where do we fill everything else? Because it would be one of the highest priorities.”
Note to Democrats—the next time you propose Medicare for All or a Green New Deal, just say you’ll get the money “from money.”
If the Senate does pass the resolution, it will go to Trump, who will almost certainly veto it. And then we’ll be back to square one.