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WASHINGTON — The House passed a resolution Tuesday evening that would terminate President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency, voting 245-182.
Thirteen House Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of the resolution.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, is intended to stop the president's use of billions of dollars in existing federal funds to build a wall on the southern border without congressional approval. The Senate, where the vote is likely to be close, is required to hold a vote within 18 days on the resolution, which Trump can veto if it passes Congress.
"We’ve got 230 co-sponsors," Castro had said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday morning — more than the number of votes needed for passage.
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina on Monday evening became the third Republican to say that he plans to back the resolution once it reaches the upper chamber.
"As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress," Tillis wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.
"As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms," he added. "These are the reasons I would vote in favor of the resolution disapproving of the president’s national-emergency declaration, if and when it comes before the Senate."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have also both indicated that they would vote in favor of the resolution.
That leaves one more GOP vote needed for passage in the Senate, which would be an embarrassment to the president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has said that he supports Trump's declaration, wouldn't definitively say Tuesday whether he thinks the president's decision is legal. He said that Senate Republicans had had a "robust, vigorous discussion" about the move's legality during their closed-door lunch earlier in the day, which was attended by Vice President Mike Pence and a lawyer from the Department of Justice.
"Well, we're in the process of weighing that," McConnell told NBC's Kasie Hunt when asked if he thought the declaration was legal. "The lawyer was there to make his argument, there were some counter arguments. I haven't reached a total conclusion about (it).... but we had some real serious lawyers in there discussing that very issue."
Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress has the ability to try to end an emergency status instituted by the president. Once it passes the House, the measure would be sent to the Senate, where — unlike most legislation — GOP leaders could not block it from reaching the floor. Federal law requires that the Senate take up the House-passed resolution within 18 days.
Assuming all Senate Democrats supported the resolution, only four Republicans would need to defect for Democrats to secure the 51 votes needed to send it to the president’s desk.
Administration aides have already made clear Trump would veto any effort that interfered with his declaration, and the measure is unlikely to attract anywhere near the GOP support needed to overturn a presidential veto.