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Senior Republican senator warns Trump to consider other border security options

Senior Republican senator warns Trump to consider other border security options
President Trump arrives at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Feb. 28 in Anchorage. (Evan Vucci / AP)

A senior Senate Republican warned President Trump on Thursday to reconsider his emergency declaration for the southern border, hinting the GOP-controlled Senate could rebuke him and overturn it.

In a floor speech, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged Trump to find other ways to get the money.

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"I support what the president wants to do on border security, but I do not support the way he has been advised to do it," Alexander said.

Alexander refused to say whether he would join three other Republican senators who have said they will support the effort to rescind Trump’s emergency declaration.

Democrats need just one more Senate Republican to join them, assuming all Democrats vote in favor.

The resolution easily cleared the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday evening by a vote of 245 to 182. Trump has said he will veto it if it reaches his desk, and neither chamber is expected to have the votes to override him.

Trump issued his own warning Thursday in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, saying that Republicans who support the Democrats’ resolution are putting themselves in political risk.

“I think that really it’s a very dangerous thing for people to be voting against border security,” Trump said. “I think they put themselves at great jeopardy.”

But Alexander said many other Republican senators share his view that the administration should find other ways to fund the wall. He pointed to several nonmilitary sources, such as unused Treasury and counter-narcotics funds.

“It is unnecessary and unwise to turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis about separation of powers when the president already has congressional funding authority to build 234 miles of border wall that he requested,” Alexander said.

Trump issued the emergency order the day after Congress explicitly denied him the $5.7 billion he requested funding for the wall and instead provided $1.375 billion for border barriers. Trump said at the time he was issuing the declaration because it was an expedient way to get the funds.

Democrats, and some Republicans, argue that the president is stepping on Congress’ constitutional role to decide how taxpayer funds are used by issuing an emergency declaration, which allows him to tap billions of dollars appropriated for the Defense Department.

“I understand that the president is disappointed that the funding that he requested did not pass,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Thursday. Collins is a co-sponsor of the Senate resolution to rescind Trump’s order. “But the failure of Congress to pass funding in the amount the president prefers cannot become an excuse for the president to usurp the powers of the [legislative] branch.”

The other two GOP senators who have said they will vote to rescind the emergency declaration are Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

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