Upcoming In The House Of Representatives: Public Displays Of Trump Challenges

Feb 25, 2019
Originally published on February 25, 2019 7:26 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump is on his way to Vietnam to talk with North Korea's leader about nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, here in Washington, Democrats will use their full set of tools this week to push back on the president's policies.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Expect votes on gun control, hearings on separating families at the border and testimony from Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. This public display of challenges to Trump begins tomorrow. That is when the House will vote on whether to block him from declaring an emergency so he can build a wall on the border with Mexico.

SHAPIRO: NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell joins us from Capitol Hill to talk more about that vote. Hi, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

SHAPIRO: So the House is voting on a resolution of disapproval, which sounds very prim. Explain how that works.

SNELL: So Congress has the ability to shut down any official executive action like the one Trump is using, and they're going to try to do that starting this week. In this particular situation, the House is planning to go first with a vote on Tuesday. And so because Democrats control the House, they control the schedule, and that is why they're going first.

This isn't like any normal bill, though. If it passes the House - and we really do expect that it will - the Senate will be forced to vote on it within a couple of weeks. And there, Democrats will need at least four Republican votes to get it to pass.

SHAPIRO: OK, so Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he supports the emergency declaration, but that doesn't matter. He has to bring this for a vote. Are those four Republicans going to be there to join the Democrats and pass this in the Senate?

SNELL: Well, the Senate is really, really where the question is - right? - because Democrats have enough of their own members to pass it in the House. The biggest question being the Senate is, you know, where are the Republicans who have had a lot of reservations about this? So far, Susan Collins of Maine is the only Republican who says she'll vote for the disapproval, though we have heard Lisa Murkowski of Alaska saying that she's leaning towards voting for disapproval as well.

Now, you mentioned that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports this. Well, he didn't before. And he has a lot of company in that position. There are a lot of people even in his own leadership crew who were really skeptical of using a national emergency, and some of them even criticized it. But they seem to be backing away. And the thing that I think is really important for people to understand is that even if they have the votes now, Trump says he'll veto this. And they would need a whole lot more. They would need 67 senators total to overturn a veto.

SHAPIRO: We hear powerful House Chairman Elijah Cummings talking about that in another part of the program. Do you think that there are the votes to override a veto?

SNELL: Well, in the House, it's really hard to say because right now Democrats are basically the ones leading the way on this. They have enough of their own members to pass it in the House. And they were looking to some moderate Republicans to come on board because really both parties have generally agreed they don't want any president encroaching on Congress' powers, and spending money is Congress's big, big power.

But even some of the moderates are shifting. Take Adam Kinzinger from Illinois. He has worked with Democrats on immigration before, and he's really not a hardliner. And he was just deployed to the border in Arizona as part of his duty as a lieutenant in the Air National Guard. But yesterday he was on CBS's "Face The Nation," and he said he's prepared to support Trump on this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

ADAM KINZINGER: If this was just about immigration, I would disagree. I do think this is a security threat. It's a security threat with the amount of drugs coming over the border and the human trafficking that I've seen.

SNELL: And you know, that's the justification that I'm hearing from most Republicans.

SHAPIRO: This is such a contrast with what we heard from Republicans in the weeks leading up to the emergency declaration where so many of them said, if we allow President Trump to do this, then any future Democratic president can declare a national emergency on climate change or gun violence. It doesn't sound like that line is getting much traction this week.

SNELL: No, it really isn't. And you know, Trump himself is pressuring a lot of Republicans on this. He tweeted today that, I hope our great Republican senators don't get led down the path of weak and ineffective border security. He went on to talk more about that. But in the end, I think it's really important to note both parties really think that this issue is destined to be decided not in Congress but in the courts.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Kelsey Snell, thanks a lot.

SNELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.