U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has indicated he’ll vote in favor of a resolution seeking to block President Donald Trump’s southern border national emergency declaration, giving Senate opponents enough votes to send the resolution to the president’s desk. Normally a close ally of President Trump, Paul becomes the fourth Republican who plans to vote with Democrats in opposition to the President’s declaration of a national emergency.
During a speech Saturday night in Bowling Green, Paul, R-Ky., said he “can’t vote to give extra-Constitutional powers to the president,” according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said, as reported by the Bowling Green Daily News. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
A spokesperson for Paul could not be immediately reached Sunday afternoon.
Trump declared an emergency in February after Congress sent him a bipartisan funding bill that didn’t include his $5.7 billion demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In declaring an emergency, the president is able to free up billions from other sources to pay for the barrier, which he claims is necessary to lessen drugs and gang members from entering the country.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-182 in support of the resolution blocking Trump’s declaration. Thirteen Republicans joined all Democrats in backing the measure.
Paul joins Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who have all said they’ll vote against the national emergency declaration.
The resolution needs 51 votes to pass.
Assuming all the Senate’s 47 Democrats and their independent allies vote against Trump, opponents would have the votes needed.
Trump has previously said that he would veto the measure.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Trump made the declaration in February to free up billions of dollars in funding for border wall construction, after Congress allocated just a fraction of what he had asked for.
Other Senators have expressed reservations about the national emergency declaration but haven’t said how they’ll vote, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. More Republicans may be willing to come out against the emergency declaration now that the balance of votes has already tipped against the president.
“I support what the president wants to do on border security, but not the way he has been advised to do it,” Alexander said in a statement last week. “There has never been an instance where a president has asked for funding, Congress refused it, and the president then used the National Emergencies Act to justify spending the money anyway.”
Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the Senate is required to fast-track the resolution and cannot filibuster the vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Tuesday that he expects the Senate will vote before March 18.