WASHINGTON (WCMH) — In Washington this week, a dozen Republican senators joined Democrats in voting against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump gave himself the power to earmark $8 billion for his long-promised wall on the United States-Mexico border. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) was one of the Republicans who voted against the national emergency. He said he supports border barriers and that the president is right about the need for better border security, but he also said Trump had no right to do what he did the way he did it.
“I do believe that the border needs more help, I think the president’s border security proposal is something I can support,” Portman said.
Portman went on to say he agrees that in addition to barriers, there needs to be more agents and judges to handle immigration cases and more infrastructure at ports of entry.
“I am concerned about how he went about doing it,” Portman said. “You can get the same amount of money that the president has asked for but not go through the national emergency process which results in the three problems of one, setting a bad precedent for future presidents to misuse it; two, the possibility that this will get tied up in the courts and never get to the border; and three, that this will come out of military construction projects including potentially some important ones in Ohio.”
Portman took to the floor of the Senate to explain his plan — using money already allocated by Congress from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and anti-drug money from the Department of Defense. He said that declaring a national emergency to secure border wall funding is a misuse of presidential powers.
“For a president to go around Congress explicitly and say, ‘I’m going to use my national emergency powers not to access funds that are authorized to me but to access funds that are not authorized to me except in an emergency’ is something that’s never been done before it’s unprecedented,” Portman said.
He said he is concerned that Trump’s declaration sets a precedent for future presidents on either side of the aisle to bypass Congress and get funds for projects of their choosing.
Portman is one of just 12 Republicans who sided with Democrats.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) opposed the Trump budget proposal for other reasons.
“It cuts Medicare, it cuts Medicaid, it pretty much almost eliminates the funding for the clean up the maintenance Lake Erie,” Brown said. “Sen. Portman and I will again go back and bipartisanly fight back and win and stop these cuts to clean up Lake Erie.”
Brown said Trump’s budget continues to help the richest people in the country while continuing to squeeze the middle class.