WASHINGTON D.C., (WKEF/WRGT) - On Wednesday the Senate, which has a Republican majority, voted to reject President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency in order to obtain funds to build a wall at the southern border.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is one of the Republican Senators who voted against the national emergency, which was defeated by a vote of 59-41.
"I do believe we have a crisis at the border, a humanitarian crisis, a trafficking crisis, a drug crisis," Sen. Portman said from the floor of the Senate ahead of the vote. Portman cited a report from Customs and Border Protection, which he said logged 76,000 illegal immigrants arriving at the southern border in the past month. During his 17 minute speech explaining his stance, Portman said he originally voted to give President Trump all of the $5.7 billion he originally requested for border security. Portman said 90 percent of the heroin that comes into the U.S. comes in from the southern border. He also said Border Patrol is seeing an increase of fentanyl coming in at the border.
While Portman believes there are problems at the border that need to be addressed, he said obtaining money through declaring a national emergency is not the right way to get the job done. "Our government has a system of checks and balances. It gives some powers to the President, it gives some powers to Congress," he said. Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress what's known as the 'power of the purse.'
"Congress, not the President, has the sole authority to determine how to spend taxpayer money. That's appropriate, after all we're here to represent the people, we're most accountable to taxpayers."
Portman said allowing the president to fund a border wall by using a national emergency declaration sets a dangerous new precedent. "No president has ever used what's called the National Emergencies Act in this way. As a result, it opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want and to take funding from other areas Congress has already decided on without Congress' approval," Portman said.
President Trump has promised to use his veto power to override the Senate's rejection.