Iowa’s three congressional Democrats — Rep. Cindy Axne, Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Rep. Dave Loebsack — joined 242 fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives in voting for a resolution to nullify President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.
All 232 House Democrat participating in the vote approved the bill, and they were joined by 13 Republicans. The measure now goes to the Senate for a vote.
This is the first time since the National Emergency Act became law in 1976 that Congress has attempted to invalidate a presidential declaration of emergency. Under the law, the Senate must vote on the House resolution, which only requires a simple majority to pass.
Every Senate Democrat has expressed support for the measure, and three Republicans — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina — have said they will vote for it. Only one additional vote is needed for the Senate to pass the resolution.
The bill would then go to President Trump, who has said he would veto it. Congress could override a veto, but it takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers to do so.
Trump declared the state of emergency on Feb. 15. During a Rose Garden appearance in which he announced the emergency, the president said there is a “national security crisis on our southern border.”
“It’s an invasion,” Trump said. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”
But statistics from the federal government show that illegal crossings of the southern border have declined, and Trump’s declaration came less than 24 hours after Congress declined to provide Trump with all the money he wanted to build a southern border wall. Trump had been threatening for months that he would declare a state of emergency if he didn’t get the wall funding he demanded.
Trump acknowledged during his Rose Garden appearance that he was declaring an emergency to get wall funding Congress won’t approve, and seemed to dismiss the idea there was an actual emergency
“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said of his declaration. “But I’d rather do it [constructing the wall] much faster. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”
Rep. Steve King, the only Republican in Iowa’s House delegation and the only Iowan to vote against the resolution, echoed this rationale during a Feb. 18 town hall in Rock Rapids, Iowa.
“He was going to have to go that way if he was going to build the wall,” King told his constituents. (At the same town hall, King also asked people to offer up prayers that he would be restored to committee assignments he lost after House Republicans finally decided to punish King for racist statements.)
Neither of Iowa’s U.S. senators, both Republicans, have announced how they will vote on the resolution.
Last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley said declaring a national emergency to get wall funding would be “bad precedent.” After Trump did it, Grassley said on the floor of the Senate, “I wish he wouldn’t have done it,” On Monday, Politico reported Grassley was “leaning to support the president and vote against blocking him.”
Ernst has not made any public comments on Trump’s declaration.
In addition to voting for the measure, Axne, Finkenauer and Loebsack all signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.