WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday, rejecting Congress' resolution to terminate his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border.
"Today, I am vetoing this resolution. Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it. And I'm very proud to veto," Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office on Friday, calling the resolution "reckless" and a "vote against reality."
"As president, the protection of the nation is my highest duty," he continued, reiterating that there is "definitely a national emergency" at the border.
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"I was elected by a very, very great group of American people. Millions and millions of people because they want security for our country and that’s what we are going to have," Trump said, displaying his determination to carry out his promise for a border wall made during his presidential campaign.
Trump was joined in the Oval Office on Friday by law enforcement officials as well as relatives of individuals who were killed by illegal immigrants.
Trump was responding to the rare rebuke enabled by members of his own party, when the GOP-controlled Senate voted 59-41 on Thursday to approve a House-passed measure that would revoke his national emergency declaration. Twelve Senate Republicans joined the Democrats to cancel the president's declaration.
Trump declared an emergency in order to claim billions of dollars for a border wall after Congress refused to direct the resources the president requested for the southern border.
The House is set to vote in an attempt to overturn Trump's veto on March 26, although it is unlikely to pass. Still, the president's emergency declaration faces legal challenges.
Trump did not seem deterred by such challenges, telling reporters on Friday that he believes his veto is "consistent with the law and the legislative process designed by our founders."
Trump spent the days leading up to the vote — which the Senate was legally required to hold, following House passage of the measure — lobbying Republicans to support his move. Two of the most vulnerable 2020 Republicans, Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., voted against the resolution to end the emergency.
Trump thanked Republicans who did not go against him in the Oval Office Friday, calling them "courageous."
"I'm proud, as I said, of a lot of Republican Senators that were with me and I'm also very proud of the House — the Republicans in the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a secure border," Trump continued.
Republicans who broke from Trump cited constitutional concerns about the potential precedent set by his use of emergency executive power.