The Senate overwhelmingly passed a massive budget and border security deal Thursday, after President Donald Trump committed to signing the legislation but said he’d also declare a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The $333 billion legislation passed 83-16, and it is expected to pass the House later Thursday, in time to avert a government shutdown slated to start Saturday.
Trump’s commitment to sign the bill likely ensures that there will not be a government shutdown beginning Saturday, barring a reversal from the mercurial president or a surprise defeat in the House. But the president’s decision to declare a national emergency, rumored for weeks, drew condemnation from Democrats and divided Republicans.
The vote followed drama in the Senate as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared suddenly on the floor to end hours of uncertainty, announcing that Trump had agreed to support the bill.
At the same time, McConnell told senators that Trump would be declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and get more money for his wall – and that McConnell himself would support the move, even though he’s been outspoken in opposition to an emergency declaration. The legislation provides a fraction of the $5.7 billion Trump has sought for his border wall.
“I had an opportunity to speak with President Trump, and he, I would say to all my colleagues, has indicated he’s prepared to sign the bill,” McConnell said on the floor. “He’ll also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time. I indicated to him I’m going to support the national emergency declaration.”
After getting burned by Trump in December on a spending bill the Senate passed and the president disavowed, McConnell wanted to move as fast as possible to a vote following Trump’s assurance of support. The majority leader was in such a hurry to announce Trump’s backing and call the vote that he interrupted Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in the middle of a speech about biofuels, drawing wrathful exclamations and glares from the longtime Iowa lawmaker.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Erica Werner, Damian Paletta, Seung Min Kim, Rachael Bade