Republican senator Mike Lee (Utah) introduced a bill Tuesday night to curb power granted to the president under the National Emergencies Act, the 1976 law under which President Trump recently declared a national emergency in order to divert military and other funding to build additional barriers on the Southern border.
There are ongoing talks between the White House and Senate Republicans that Lee’s bill, or a modified version of it, could be passed as part of a deal in which the Senate defeats the resolution terminating the national emergency recently declared by President Trump.
“Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back,” Lee said in a statement. “If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so.”
Under Lee’s bill, a national emergency declared by the president would automatically expire after 30 days without congressional approval. Under current law, Congress needs a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
A handful of Senate Republicans who have expressed concern or opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration, including Senators Tillis and Rubio, have suggested they’re open to upholding Trump’s national-emergency declaration in order to change the underlying law.
GOP senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins are firm “no” votes, but it was unclear Wednesday morning how other GOP senators, such as Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, would vote on any potential deal. “I’m operating off of beef jerky and no information,” Murkowski said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, House speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement rejecting any deal on Trump’s emergency declaration coming out of the Senate. “Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover,” Pelosi said. “The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass.”