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Romney, Lee Buck Trump Over National Emergency Declaration

Mitt Romney at microphone in KUER studios.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Sen. Mitt Romney voted resolution disapproving of President Donald Trump’s National Emergency Declaration, joining Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who also broke with the president.

Romney tweeted a statement from his official account Thursday morning, hours before the Senate was scheduled to vote on the measure.

“I will vote today for the resolution of disapproval,” said Romney. “This is a vote for the Constitution and the balance of powers that is at its core.”

The move by Romney and other Senate Republicans sets up the likelihood that President Trump will issue the first veto of his presidency as he seeks to fulfill a key campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Romney said he agrees with the president that a wall is “urgently needed” to alleviate problems — such as illegal border crossings and a large number of asylum seekers — at the U.S.-Mexico border, but added that the president’s declaration goes too far in usurping the powers of Congress.

Lee, Utah’s senior senator, will also vote to block Trump after failing to secure a last-minute deal to try to subvert a mass defection of Republicans on the disapproval vote. Lee had proposed legislation to rein in the executive branch’s ability to declare future national emergencies without congressional approval.

President Trump called Lee yesterday to tell him he would not support the deal, according to news reports, prompting Lee’s change of mind.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., drafted the resolution earlier this month after Trump announced on Feb. 15 that he would declare a national emergency to unlock funds to construct a barrier along the southern border.

Trump said the humanitarian situation at the border necessitated the action, though Democrats and immigration experts have been critical of the maneuver as chiefly political.

Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams was the sole member of Utah’s House delegation to support the resolution. Reps. Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart expressed reservations about the emergency declaration, but did not vote against it.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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