U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey joined a 59-41 majority in the Senate to overturn President Trump’s emergency declaration at the southern border on Thursday.
“There’s a real irony to this, because I fully support the actual policy of building a physical barrier, a border wall,” the Pennsylvania Republican said in a call with reporters Thursday. “I still support that, and I think the president’s request for $5.7 billion was a very reasonable request.”
But while he supports the president’s border security goals, Toomey opposed the president’s national emergency declaration.
“It undermines a very, very important principle of our Constitution, which is the separation of powers,” he said. “Specifically, the responsibility that Congress has to determine how government money is spent.”
When asked what the implications of an emergency declaration would be for Pennsylvania, the senator said he thinks it’s unlikely to have short term implications, but “there is a danger that future military construction projects in Pennsylvania could be affected by this. I don’t think that’s likely to happen in the short term because the administration has indicated they’re going to use other sources of funds first.”
When running for reelection in 2016, Toomey branded himself as a check on Trump, if elected, and touted that position Thursday.
“President Trump and I have worked together and have accomplished some really big things: tax reforms, regulatory reforms, judicial nominees and confirmations. But when I disagree with the president I do feel a responsibility to stand up and say so,” he said.
Toomey was also concerned with the “dangerous precedent” such a declaration provides for future presidents, pointing to Democratic presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren.
“It’s not entirely a speculative concern,” Toomey said. Warren has said she would declare national emergencies on gun violence, climate change and student loan debt if elected.
Moving forward, Toomey said he wants to modify the National Emergencies Act, to require consent from Congress before an emergency declaration can go into effect.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also voted against the declaration. President Trump has already said he will veto it.