After a month of indecision, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner voted against a resolution Thursday that would block President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the southern border.
“There is a crisis at the border and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have prevented a solution,” Gardner said in a statement, referring to Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
Gardner said Trump “clearly” had legal authority to declare a national emergency and was right to do so as Border Patrol apprehensions and methamphetamine seizures increase along the southern border. “It should never have come to this, but in the absence of congressional action, the president did what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to do,” Gardner said.
The Republican senator from Yuma had been leery of Trump’s emergency declaration, saying Feb. 14 that Congress, not the president, is best situated to fund border security. It was Congress’ rejection of Trump’s requested $5.7 billion in funding that prompted the president’s declaration.
But Gardner said little about the emergency declaration or the disapproval resolution for a month before the vote. Colorado’s other senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, has been an outspoken critic of the emergency declaration and voted for the resolution to block it, which passed 59-41.
“Never has a president sought to enact a national emergency like this after Congress said, ‘No.’ Congress has the power of the purse in our Constitution. Every single senator should be voting to protect that,” Bennet said in a loud speech on the Senate floor before the vote.
Trump strongly opposed the resolution, saying in a tweet Thursday morning, “I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!” He urged Republican senators not to vote with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Gardner is expected to face a tough re-election fight next year and his opponents had seized on his uncertainty. Mike Johnston, a Democratic challenger, said last week that Gardner “had a chance to be a leader and speak out” but “instead remained silent.” Another Democratic challenger, Trish Zornio, has called the national emergency phony and dangerous.
“It shouldn’t be this hard to make Cory Gardner do the right thing,” Zornio wrote in a fundraising email to her supporters an hour before the vote.
The House passed the disapproval resolution Feb. 26, largely along party lines. Colorado’s four Democratic House members voted in favor and its three Republican members voted in opposition.
A national Quinnipiac University poll released March 6 found 66 percent of voters disapproved of Trump’s use of emergency powers to fund a border wall. Colorado, represented by Attorney General Phil Weiser, is one of 20 states suing Trump in an attempt to stop the president’s move.