Rep. Joaquin Castro calls for GOP senators to join in rebuke of Trump

March 13, 2019 GMT

San Antonio Democrat Joaquin Castro today pressed GOP senators to vote Thursday to rebuke President Donald Trump for declaring a national emergency to free billions of dollars to build the wall along the border with Mexico.

“President Trump’s action was an act of constitutional vandalism and the nation will be watching tomorrow to see if the senators stand up to the president or they cower,” Castro told reporters.

Castro is chief sponsor of a resolution overwhelmingly passed by the Democratic-run House last month that would to nullify the president’s declaration. Trump invoked the rarely used executive power in hopes of securing $5.7 billion that he says is needed for border barriers.


The Senate, controlled by Republicans, is expected to join with the House in the anti-Trump vote as early as Thursday. Trump has pledged to veto the measure and it is highly unlikely that Congress can muster enough support for an override.

Texas Take: Get political headlines from across the state sent directly to your inbox

The remaining intrigue surrounds how many GOP senators join with Democrats. Thus far, four Republicans - Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Thom Tillis of North Carolina - have said they’ll defect from their party.

But Trump is pressing to keep his party’s senators in line, and Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday met privately with senators in hopes of preventing further support for Castro’s resolution and a significant embarrassment for Trump.

Castro said he and his staff have been trying to pressure Senate Republicans on the fence. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has pledged to vote no on the resolution and support the president. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has given no clear indication of how he will vote.

Related: Cornyn to vote no on resolution nullifying Trump veto

“What is most disturbing to me is that some of the senators who have in the past made statements very critical of the president using an emergency declaration in this way now seem to be falling in line with President Trump. They’ve demonstrated particular weakness and timidity on this vote,” he said.

Castro was joined by other Texas Democrats speaking with reporters about the vote.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, of Laredo, contended that more than $500 million could be diverted from military construction at Joint Base San Antonio and other regional military facilities under the president’s plan.

“If you’re those men and women who serve in the military and we’re saying we’re not going to give you a hospital or we’re not going to give you a dorm because we’re going to build a wall, we know what they’re going to say. They’ll say, ‘we don’t want that’,” Cuellar said.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, of El Paso, contended that the emergency declaration “is about the president securing his base. This is about the president delivering on a campaign promise that he failed to deliver on when his party was in control,” she said.