Sen. Mitt Romney says his vote was about the balance of power

Mar 14, 2019, 4:46 PM

Mitt Romney in Washington...

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2018, file photo, Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, center, walks the hallway on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Two Utah senators led the way in opposing President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration for border security: Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney.

Utah’s freshman senator joined KSL’s midday show, Inside Sources, to explain why he broke with many Republicans on Thursday in a high-profile vote.

Sen. Romney was among 12 members of the GOP who voted against President Trump’s plan by supporting the resolution introduced by Sen. Lee. That support meant the vote to eliminate the president’s emergency declaration passed in the Senate 59-41.

Sen. Romney told KSL that he was not voting against Pres. Trump or against the plan to build a wall at the southern border. The vote, for Sen. Romney, was a vote against executive overreach.

“It came down to a decision about the Constitution. This was not a vote about the president. This was not a vote about, frankly, the crisis at the border. I believe there is a crisis at the border,” he said.

Sen. Romney says he still believes in building the wall and he believes it will happen.

“And I do believe in completing a border barrier. I believe that will happen. I’d like to see more money for that. But this was a question about the balance of power which is at the core of the Constitution,” he added.

Sen. Romney quoted Article I of the Constitution, which states the power of the purse is vested in the legislative branch, not the executive branch.

He says Congress put a certain amount of money towards projects like the border wall and Pres. Trump can’t put additional money towards it without violating the principle of the balance of power.

The apparent increase of power held and exercised by the executive branch is something that is of concern to many members of Congress, including Sen. Romney.

“Too much power has been granted or needs to be clarified,” the senator says.

Romney told KSL that Pres. Trump indicated through a tweet on Thursday that he is open to reshaping the emergency powers legislation.

Sen. Romney says there may be “a meeting of the minds” to discuss possible changes to the presidential power to declare a national emergency with funding for the emergency situation.

Congress has a “fail-safe” power to reverse actions by the president and Sen. Romney said Thursday’s vote was an exercise of that fail-safe power.

Pres. Trump used Twitter to indicate that he would veto the bill overthrowing his emergency declaration.

Sen. Romney says he anticipates the veto and he expects the veto will be successful.

The House would need to have 290 votes to override the veto. Democrats currently hold 235 seats in the House.

“I do not think the House will be able to override his veto,” Romney says.

He also believes the Senate does not have the votes to override a veto on this bill.

Since 1789, presidents have used the veto power 1,484 times. Only 106 of those vetos have been overridden, a rate of 7.1%.

Without a veto override, Romney believes that the president can appropriate funds from the military to help pay for the border. Trump can also draw upon a treasury forfeiture fund. Additionally, the president can draw from a fund designated for stopping the flow of illegal drugs across the border.

All of these sources of funding means that Pres. Trump has access to “many billions of dollars” before he would need to access the money from the emergency declaration, Romney says.


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Sen. Mitt Romney says his vote was about the balance of power