Politics Override Constitution on Republican Senate Vote Over Wall Emergency

In history, there have been times when the White House usurped or attempted to usurp the power of Congress. But there has never been a time when the White House decided to spend a large sum of money — some eight billion dollars — on a pet political project by declaring a national emergency.

The US House of Representatives has Constitutional authority to decide where to spend federal money. The House rejected funding for extension of the wall at the Mexican border when it was under Republican control and again after the 2018 election when it was under Democratic control.

Unable to get his pet project funded, Donald Trump declared a national emergency to expropriate money from other projects and divert it to the wall on February 15. The House voted to reject the emergency 245 to 182, all of the Democrats and twelve Republicans, on February 26. The Senate also rejected the national emergency on March 14. The 59 to 41 vote was not enough to override a veto.


Twelve Republicans in eleven states voted with all of the Democrats against the national emergency. Of the twelve, only one is up for reelection in 2020. Here are more statistics on the twelve:

  • Three of the twelve states have split Senators, one Republican and the other Democratic (or caucusing with Democrats). In all three of these states, the Republican voted against Donald Trump: Susan Collins of Maine, Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
  • Of those three in split states, and of all twelve Republicans voting against the emergency, only one is facing reelection in 2020, Susan Collins.
  • Eight states have two Republican Senators. In Utah, where Donald Trump is not popular but Republican Senators are, both Senators voted against the emergency, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney. Neither is up for reelection in 2020.
  • Seven states have two Republican Senators who split their votes, one for and one against.
  • In four of these seven Republican controlled states, the Senator voting for the emergency is up for reelection next year: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
  • In two of these seven states, opponent Senators are not up for reelection next year, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida.
  • Marco Rubio previously ran for president on the George W. Bush PNAC agenda, and has been protected in the past by both parties.
  • In Tennessee, the last of the seven states, Senator Lamar Alexander is retiring. He will not have to face any 2020 election.

Only one of the twelve is up for re-election in 2020. Senator Susan Collins of Maine stood alone against all other current Republican candidates not only to vote against the emergency, but to sponsor the resolution before the vote.

Susan Collins was the object of much outrage in the swing state of Maine when she voted for Brett Kavanaugh to join the Supreme Court last year, despite sexual assault allegations. She took the bizarre view that she believed the accuser was attacked but did not believe Brett Kavanaugh was the perpetrator. An outraged public prepared a campaign fund to support her opponent in 2020. Susan Collins is on very thin ice and needs to appear moderate now.


Breaking up Republicans Senators into three categories, an interesting pattern emerges. Of 31 Republican Senators not up for 2020 reelection, 9 voted against the wall, or 29 percent. Of two retiring Senators, both voted against the wall, or 100 percent. Of 20 Senators up for reelection next year, 19 voted for the wall, or 95 percent.

Every Senator up for reelection next year voted with Donald Trump unless the name was Susan Collins, already embattled over the Brett Kavanaugh vote. But some of those who will have more time for the matter to settle dared to vote against him. Everyone bowing out of politics voted against him. This could just be a strange coincidence, or it could be a calculated political move.

In 2016, many Republican Senators up for reelection initially flipped against Donald Trump after the infamous “p-tape” came out, but then quickly flopped back to him. This suggests more politics than honest consideration.

(featured picture source)