By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A test of Republican lawmakers’ loyalty to President Donald Trump comes on Tuesday when the House of Representatives votes on a long-shot effort to override his veto of a resolution ending the national emergency he declared to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Democratic-led House was unlikely to gain the Republican support needed to reach the roughly 290 votes, or two-thirds majority, required to override Trump’s veto.
The House passed the resolution last month in a 245-182 vote , and was later joined by the Republican-led Senate, but Trump vetoed it.
Democrats and some Republicans believe the national emergency declared by Trump in order to build a border wall trampled on the congressional power to make government spending decisions.
“Everyone that cares about the United States Constitution, as many of my Republican colleagues profess to do, should be alarmed at this presidential overreach,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters Tuesday on before the vote.
But only 13 Republicans in the House sided with Democrats on Feb. 25 when the resolution was first passed and a Democratic congressional aide said the outcome of the House vote on Tuesday would “probably be similar.”
Trump’s position was possibly strengthened by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion after a 22-month investigation that the Republican president’s campaign team did not collude with Russian interference during the 2016 election.
That political victory for Trump may make it more challenging for Republicans to defy the president on a range of issues, including his border emergency.
“Even though the two issues clearly aren’t related, it increases the president’s strength and popularity and puts him in a stronger position,” said Republican Representative Tom Cole.
Others predicted that little would change.
“I think some (Republicans) voted for the last resolution because they’re constitutional purists and see the declaration as a usurpation of congressional authority,” said Representative Kenny Marchant, a Republican. He voted against the resolution last time, he said, because he believed there is an emergency at the U.S. southern border.
Trump declared the national emergency on Feb. 15 in an attempt to bypass Congress and move taxpayer funds for the wall away from other uses already approved by Congress.
For two years, Congress refused to meet Trump’s demands for funding the wall, although it appropriated some funds for border fencing and other barriers.
Trump’s declaration of a national emergency also is being litigated in the courts.
Republican Senator Susan Collins, who voted with Democrats in the Senate to terminate Trump’s border emergency, said she was hopeful more House Republicans would oppose the president on the issue but was not optimistic.
“This issue is not about whether or not you ought to build a wall, or don’t build a wall, it’s not about your opinion of President Trump, it’s not about border security, it’s about the Constitution and Congress standing up for the power of the purse under Article one, Section 9,” she said.
Trump has made clamping down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his presidency and it promises to be central to his 2020 re-election campaign.
His drive for billions of dollars to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall – one that he initially promised Mexico would pay for – has placed a wedge between him and Congress, including some Republicans who are uncomfortable talking about a wall.
Many in Congress say effective border security requires a range of law enforcement tools and Democrats dispute Trump’s claim that there is a crisis at the border.