Texas’ two Republicans senators — both part of a last-minute effort to keep their party from dealing a massive rebuke to President Donald Trump — voted against a bill aimed at derailing Trump’s plans to fund his border wall through an emergency declaration Thursday.
The Democrat-led legislation passed the Republican-controlled Senate with the support of 12 GOP senators. Trump is expected to veto it, sending the bill back to Congress where many much more Republican support is needed to override the president.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn told reporters in the days leading up to the vote that while he disagreed with Trump’s decision, the president was well within his constitutional right to declare a national emergency.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who withheld plans until Thursday’s vote, explained his vote with a nearly 900-word statement, citing a “crisis at the border” that must be addressed.
Prior to Thursday’s vote both senators had each expressed deep concerns about the precedent Trump’s use of the emergency power could set for future presidents. On Wednesday they joined legislation aimed at scaling back that authority, which the White House rejected.
“This was a difficult vote. I understand my colleagues’ real concerns regarding the vast emergency powers that Congress has given the President over the last half-century,” Cruz said in his statement. “I share those concerns.”
Though Cruz had earlier questioned Trump’s legal authority, he added Thursday that he believed Trump was “acting pursuant to explicit statutory authority.”
Plenty of Cruz’s usual conservatives allies were among the Republicans siding with Democrats over their distaste for Trump’s attempt circumvent Congress, including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.
Outside the U.S. Senate Thursday afternoon Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, the author of the legislation to disapprove of Trump’s emergency declaration, laid into Cornyn and Cruz for their votes before a crowd of TV cameras.
“I’m proud to say that 59 senators stood up to the president today, and stood up for the constitution,” said Castro, who is considering challenging Cornyn in his 2020 re-election race. “Unfortunately in Texas that did not include either of our senators… who betrayed the people of Texas in favor of Donald Trump.”