WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled House fell short Tuesday in its effort to override President Donald Trump’s first veto, handing him a victory in his effort to spend billions more for constructing barriers along the Southwest border than Congress has approved.
Lawmakers voted 248-181 in favor of overturning his veto, mostly along party lines, but that was 38 votes shy of the number needed for the required two-thirds majority.
The outcome, not a surprise, enabled Trump to move forward on an issue that was a hallmark of his 2016 presidential campaign and of his presidency. Yet the vote also gave Democrats a way to focus on policy differences with Trump, days after Attorney General William Barr gave the president a political boost by saying special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to influence his election.
Congress sent Trump a resolution this month annulling the national emergency that Trump had declared at the US-Mexico border. That included passage by the Republican-led Senate, in which 12 GOP senators — nearly 1 of every 4 — voted with Democrats to block him.
Trump vetoed that measure almost immediately.
Trump had declared the border emergency under a law that lets him shift budget funds to address dire situations. His plan is to shift an additional $3.6 billion from military construction projects to work on border barriers. Congress voted this year to limit spending on such barriers to less than $1.4 billion, and Democrats called his declaration a gambit for ignoring lawmakers’ constitutional control over spending.
“We take an oath that we must honor” to protect the Constitution,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The choice is simple, between partisanship and patriotism. Between honoring our sacred oath or hypocritically, inconsistently breaking this oath.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, called Trump’s declaration “constitutional vandalism.”
Republicans said Trump was merely acting under a law that gives presidents emergency powers, and was trying to head off Democrats with little concern about border security.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said Trump was acting against the “radical left in this House that would dissolve our borders entirely if given the chance” — a stance that no Democrat has taken.
Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., called the veto override effort “a partisan whack job” because of its certain defeat.
In a symbolic move by Democrats, presiding over the debate and vote was freshman Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, representing a district surrounding El Paso along the Mexican border.
Tuesday’s vote was the legislative finale of a showdown that’s been building for months.
Even with his veto remaining intact, Trump may not be able to spend the money for barriers quickly because of lawsuits that might take years to resolve.
Democrats were hoping to use the border emergency battle in upcoming campaigns, both to symbolize Trump’s harsh immigration stance and claim he was hurting congressional districts around the country.
The Pentagon sent lawmakers a list last week of hundreds of military construction projects that might be cut to pay for barrier work. Though the list was tentative, Democrats were asserting that GOP lawmakers were endangering local bases to pay for the wall.
Opponents of Trump’s emergency warned that besides usurping Congress’ role in making spending decisions, he was inviting future Democratic presidents to circumvent lawmakers by declaring emergencies to finance their own favored initiatives.
Trump supporters said he was simply acting under a 1976 law that lets presidents declare national emergencies. Trump’s declaration was the 60th presidential emergency under that statute, but the first aimed at spending that Congress explicitly denied, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks the law.
The House approved the resolution blocking Trump’s emergency by 245-182 in February. On Tuesday, Trump opponents will need to reach 288 votes to prevail.
Just 13 House Republicans opposed Trump in February, around 1 in 15. Another 30 would have to defect to override his veto.
This month, the GOP-led Senate rebuked Trump with a 59-41 vote blocking his declaration after the failure of a Republican effort to reach a compromise with the White House. Republicans were hoping to avoid a confrontation with him for fear of alienating pro-Trump voters.
With the House override vote failing, the Senate won’t attempt its own override and the veto will stand.
US House To Vote On Net Neutrality Bill Tuesday
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Tuesday on a bill to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Donald Trump.
Republicans oppose the effort arguing it would grant the FCC too much authority over the internet and deter private sector investment.
The bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s December 2017 order approved on a 3-2 vote that repealed Obama-era rules barring providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.”
The reversal of net neutrality rules was a win for internet providers such as Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but opposed by companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.
The bill would repeal the order introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, bar the FCC from reinstating it or a substantially similar order and reinstate the 2015 net neutrality order.
Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, noted polls suggest most Americans back net neutrality. The bill, he said, “would restore popular, bipartisan, common sense net neutrality protections, and put a cop back on the beat to protect consumers, small businesses, and competitors from unjust and unreasonable practices” by internet providers.
Pai, who expressed regret last month about how much attention the net neutrality debate has consumed, suggested restoring FCC oversight would lead to an internet “that works as quickly as your DMV, that runs as reliably as Amtrak and ultimately is as popular as your post office.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy dubbed the effort the “Democrats plan to take over the internet” and suggested the FCC could impose new taxes on internet service like telephone and cable bills.
The FCC in 2015 in reclassifying internet service said it had significant oversight authority, including the ability to set rates for internet service, but said it was opting not to use it.
Gigi Sohn, a former senior aide to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who ran the agency when the net neutrality rules were adopted, said the rules ensure “internet users, not broadband providers, decide winners and losers on the Internet.”
The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in May 2018 to reinstate the rules, but the House did not take up the issue before Congress adjourned. The White House opposes reinstating net neutrality and it is unclear that proponents will be able to force a vote in the Senate.
US House Votes To End Support For Yemen War, Rebuffing Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday voted to end American involvement in the Yemen war, rebuffing the Trump administration’s support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia as Congress for the first time invoked the War Powers Resolution to try and stop a foreign conflict.
The measure now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to veto it, with the White House citing “serious constitutional concerns.” Congress lacks the votes to override him.
House approval came on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote was 54-46 on March 13.
“The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy,” said Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said the humanitarian crisis in Yemen triggered by the war “demands moral leadership.”
The war in Yemen is in its fifth year. Thousands of people have been killed and millions are on the brink of starvation. The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, acknowledged the dire situation in Yemen for civilians, but spoke out in opposition to the bill, saying it was an abuse of the War Powers Resolution.
“This radical interpretation has implications far beyond Saudi Arabia,” McCaul said. He warned that the measure could “disrupt U.S. security cooperation agreements with more than 100 countries.”
Democrats overcame a GOP attempt to divide the majority party through a procedural motion involving Israel just minutes before the Yemen vote. Republicans wanted to amend the Yemen bill with language condemning the international boycott movement and efforts to delegitimize Israel. Democrats argued the amendment would kill the Yemen resolution, and most of them voted against the Israel measure.
“This is about politics, this is about trying to drive a wedge into this caucus where it does not belong,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said to applause from Democrats. Deutch described the boycott movement as “economic warfare,” but called on lawmakers to vote against the amendment.
“The Jewish community also has a history of standing up against atrocities like the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. My colleagues are trying to block us from standing in support of human rights,” he said.
Opposition to the Saudi-led war in Yemen gathered support last year in the aftermath of the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post columnist was killed in October by agents of the kingdom, a close U.S. partner, while he was in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence agencies and lawmakers believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, who had written articles critical of the kingdom.
Lawmakers from both parties have scrutinized U.S.-Saudi ties and criticized Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough.
Former Senator Bob Dole Promoted From Army Captain To Army Colonel In Unanimous Congressional Decision
(The Blaze) — Both chambers of Congress unanimously passed legislation that promoted former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole’s Army rank from captain to colonel.
“It is certainly humbling to know my friends in the Kansas delegation, Sens. Roberts and Moran and Congressman Marshall – along with Mark Milley – chose to give me an honorary promotion to the grade of colonel in the U.S. Army.
“While I’m not sure I deserve it, I remain incredibly grateful. I was proud to wear our nation’s uniform 77 years ago when I enlisted, and my pride in America’s brave service men and women continues today. We are the greatest and strongest nation on earth thanks to sacrifices they make each and every day,” Dole tweeted in a statement Tuesday.
The 95-year-old Republican from Kansas received two Purple Hearts and he was awarded two Bronze Stars for valor for his service in World War II. In 1945, Dole was wounded by German gunfire. His injuries left him with limited use of his right arm.
Kansas lawmakers championed the legislation that passed Tuesday.
Dole represented the state of Kansas in the U.S. House and Senate for a total of 35 years. He rose to Senate majority leader in 1995 but resigned the following year to focus on his unsuccessful bid for the presidency.
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