Portman, Brown Join Senate Vote To Terminate Trump's Emergency Declaration

Mar 14, 2019

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to terminate President Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. Both of Ohio's senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, cast their votes in support of the measure.

The Senate voted 59-41 for a resolution to halt Trump's emergency order, not enough to override a likely veto from Trump. Trump already promised to reject the resolution, setting up a legal fight.

In a press call earlier Thursday, Portman said he agrees with Trump that there is a crisis on the southern border. But he believes an emergency declaration is the wrong solution and would give future presidents too much authority.

On the Senate floor, Portman argued his decision was rooted in the Constitution’s separation of powers.

"Each one of us in this body has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Portman said. “So today I will vote to support the disapproval resolution that is before us."

Instead of funding a wall through an emergency declaration, Portman says the president should look to alternative sources in the Treasury and Defense Departments.

“This approach again has three distinct advantages," Portman said. "One, it would not set the dangerous precedent we’ve discussed today. Second, the funds could actually get to the border because they won’t be tied up in litigation. And third, it would protect important military construction projects in Ohio and around the country.”

Trump's order would redirect military funding to fund the border wall. Several Ohio projects are at risk of having money diverted, including Camp Garfield, Youngstown Air Reserve Station and Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Portman pointed out the $1.3 billion Congress recently appropriated is the most ever dedicated to barriers in a fiscal year. He said the president could also tap $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and $4 billion from the Department of Defense Counter-Drug Account.

"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,” Portman said. “I support him using those funds to get to the full $5.7 billion he requested for barriers on the southern border."

The vote marks the first time Congress has used its power to reject a presidential emergency order. Portman's vote is also a notable break for the Ohio congressman, who has historically been hesitant to oppose the president. However, he previously said he wanted to find an "alternative way" to fund the border.

Brown has long opposed the emergency declaration, calling it an "illegal act."

“The President’s decision to go around Congress and take funding away from our military to support his vanity project is reckless and irresponsible," Brown said in a statement shortly after the vote. "I urge my Republican colleagues to help us override the President’s expected veto."

Trump wants to use his declaration to steer $3.6 billion more to border barriers than lawmakers approved. He warned Republicans to stick with him on the vote, and said doing otherwise would be siding with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But a dozen Republicans defied that warning.

The declaration is already being challenged in court by multiple states, not including Ohio.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.