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Meet the 12 GOP senators who voted to terminate Trump’s national emergency

Group includes conservatives worried about precedent and a moderate facing a tough re-election

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Thursday that he would support the effort to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Thursday that he would support the effort to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve Senate Republicans rebuked President Donald Trump on Thursday by voting to block his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.

The group includes moderate senators — including one up for re-election in 2020 — and conservatives who balked at the president circumventing Congress. Trump declared a national emergency last month after lawmakers failed to appropriate his desired funds for a border wall. (Six of the 12 Republicans who joined every Democratic senator in supporting the resolution serve on the Appropriations Committee.)

Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he would veto the resolution to terminate the emergency, which passed the Senate, 59-41, in the afternoon after passing the House late last month. Two-thirds of the vote in both chambers are required to override a veto.

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Despite some Republicans supporting the resolution, it appears that neither chamber would be able to cross that threshold. Pelosi declined to say Thursday whether she would have the House vote to override Trump’s promised veto, saying, “We’ll take it one step at a time.”

Several senators in competitive re-election races sided with the president and opposed the resolution, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona, Joni Ernst of Iowa, David Perdue of Georgia and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who changed his opinion after authoring an op-ed in The Washington Post two weeks ago against the emergency declaration.

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A handful of other senators with potentially competitive races voted against the resolution, including John Cornyn of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Here are the 12 Republicans who supported the effort to terminate the national emergency declaration:

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee

The retiring Tennessee lawmaker said that he supports the president on border security but that the emergency declaration sets a dangerous precedent. “His declaration to take an additional $3.6 billion that Congress has appropriated for military hospitals, barracks and schools is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution that I swore an oath to support and defend,” Alexander said in a statement Thursday ahead of the vote.

The three-term senator, a member of the Appropriations Committee, announced last December that he would not run for re-election in 2020.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri

Blunt is a senior Appropriations member and the only one in Senate GOP leadership to support the termination measure. He has previously raised concern about the precedent it would set. Blunt was re-elected to a second Senate term in 2016. (He served several terms in the House before running for Senate in 2010.)

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Sen. Susan Collins of Maine

Collins co-sponsored the resolution out of concern for the precedent an emergency declaration would set for the powers of executive branch. The Senate appropriator known for bucking her party, splitting with leadership on efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law in 2017. That independent streak has become part of Collins’ brand in Maine, where she remains popular.

But the four-term senator is likely to face her toughest re-election next year, with Democrats raising millions of dollars for a yet-to-be-determined challenger after she voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Collins is a top target in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and Democrats will be arguing that she’s voted with her party much more often than not. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates her re-election Tilts Republican.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah

The senior senator from Utah, first elected in 2010, announced his support for the resolution Wednesday. The announcement came after Trump rejected his last-ditch effort to curtail future national emergency declarations, which could have provided cover for GOP senators to support Trump’s declaration.

Lee is among the most conservative senators in the chamber who has been focused on restoring Congress’ power. “For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the executive branch,” he said in a statement announcing his decision. Lee is up for re-election in 2022.

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Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas

Moran, a member of Senate Appropriations, announced on Twitter shortly before Thursday’s vote that he would support the resolution. “I share President Trump’s goal of securing our borders, but expanding the powers of the presidency beyond its constitutional limits is something I cannot support,” he tweeted.  also attached photos of his handwritten notes outlining his position. He’s up for a third term in 2022.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Murkowski, who is not up for re-election until 2022, is among the more moderate senators and has proved that she is not afraid to break with her party and Trump. The Senate appropriator explained her support for the resolution in a floor speech earlier this month, saying, “Congress is a co-equal branch of government and as such Congress should stand up for itself.”

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky

Paul announced at a GOP Lincoln Day dinner earlier this month that he would support the resolution, noting that Congress did not appropriate the funds Trump was looking to use for the border wall. “If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing,” the two-term senator said.

Paul has described his political views as libertarian, and has been known to break with his party on foreign policy and surveillance issues. He was re-elected to the Senate in 2016 after a failed White House bid, and he will not face voters again until 2022.

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Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio

The two-term senator announced in a floor speech Thursday that he would support the resolution. He had been working with Lee on legislation relating to national emergency powers, which hit a roadblock when Trump rejected the deal. Portman said Thursday that he supported Trump’s request for border wall funding, but that an emergency declaration was not necessary to secure those funds. Portman said the declaration would set a “dangerous precedent” and “opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want.”

Portman won re-election by more than 20 points in 2016 and won’t face voters again until 2022.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah

Although Romney is a freshman senator, he entered the chamber with a high profile as his party’s 2012 presidential nominee and the former governor of Massachusetts. Romney has been critical of Trump in the past, and said before Thursday’s vote that he would support the resolution.

Before Trump officially made his move, Romney said that he did not believe declaring a national emergency was the right approach, and that he “would also expect the president stay within statutory and constitutional limits.” Romney won the open Utah Senate race in 2018 by 32 points, and he is not up for re-election again until 2024.

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Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida

Like many others, Rubio warned of the precedent set by Trump’s national emergency. A member of Senate Appropriations, he said in a February statement that while he agreed there was a crisis at the southern border, “a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”

Rubio won re-election by 8 points in 2016 after an unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for president. Trump carried Florida by just 1 point that year.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania

The conservative Pennsylvania Republican has occasionally broken with the president in the past, particularly on Trump’s use of tariffs. Toomey told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday that he supports Trump’s effort to build a border wall, but the declaration of a national emergency was “a very important separation of powers issue.”

Toomey narrowly won re-election in 2016 when Trump won Pennsylvania by less than a point.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi

The two-term senator, who’s the chairman of the Commerce Committee and the second-highest-ranked Republican on the Armed Services panel, had “serious reservations” about what an emergency declaration would do to the separation of powers. “The precedent we set this year might empower a future liberal President to declare emergencies to enact gun control or to address ‘climate emergencies,’ or even to tear down the wall we are building today,” he said in a statement earlier this week.

The Air Force veteran won re-election comfortably last fall in a state Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016.

Lindsey McPherson and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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