Murkowski: Yes, I'll probably support the Democratic resolution to block Trump's emergency decree

Not a surprise but worth noting, as it means Schumer is now halfway to the four Republican votes he needs to pass the House resolution rescinding Trump’s declaration of emergency at the border.

First she votes no on Kavanaugh, then this. Is there any red-state Republican in the Senate more confident in her ability to beat back a challenge from the right than Lisa Murkowski? Winning a Senate seat via a write-in campaign after being successfully primaried will do that to you, I guess.

In an interview on Channel 2 Friday night, Murkowski said she will “probably” support the resolution despite her support for increased border security.

“Not because I disagree with the President when it comes to border security, (or) certainly national security, but because I think it’s so important that there be clear lines when it comes to the separation of powers,” Murkowski said. “There’s going to be a great deal of debate as to whether or not the legal authority is there. I would suggest there probably is. The question is…is this over and above the authority that has been granted specifically to the congress itself?”

Don’t read too much into her qualifying her support with “probably.” Watch the clip and you’ll see that all she means by that is that she reserves the right to change her mind if Democrats try to pull a bait and switch on her, replacing a “clean” resolution targeting Trump’s emergency decree with something that includes other Democratic priorities. Susan Collins made the same point a few days ago. She’ll vote to block Trump — so long as the resolution is clean. Pelosi and Schumer have little choice but to bow to their wishes since centrist Republicans are the balance of power in the Senate.

So that’s two Republicans officially in favor. Surely we can pencil in Lamar Alexander as a definitive yes too, though, right? Here’s a choice bit from the statement he issued after Trump announced his emergency declaration eight days ago:

The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution…

It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.

A member of Congress could, I suppose, support executive action which he finds “unnecessary” and “unwise” because of some countervailing virtue it has (although I can’t think offhand of what rationale he might give) but “inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution” is game over. Alexander will also qualify his support for a Democratic resolution by demanding that it be “clean,” I’m sure, but realistically there’s no way he votes no at this point.

That puts the balance at 50/50 in the Senate, with Schumer needing one more vote to break the tie. No other Republican has been as definitive in their public comments as Collins, Murkowski, and Alexander in saying they’ll vote with Democrats but eyeball some of the skeptical quotes compiled by Politico from the likes of Rand Paul and Thom Tillis (“I don’t believe a national emergency declaration is the solution”) and you’ll see that this resolution is going to pass, and not by a two-vote margin either. In fact, the other senator from Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan, appeared on the same program as Murkowski yesterday and he didn’t rule out supporting it either. There might be a “dam break” among Senate Republicans now that it’s clear the measure will have a majority, with the final tally somewhere north of 51 and somewhere short of the 67 Schumer would need to override a Trump veto.

And if you’re counting on good ol’ Joe Manchin to cross the aisle and make support for Trump’s declaration bipartisan, don’t bother. “I pray to goodness that some of my Republican colleagues will stand up and say, Mr. President, I am not supporting that, I think it is wrong,” he said last week, adding that he thinks Trump “does not have a leg to stand on” legally. I wouldn’t go that far, but Democratic opposition to POTUS on the emergency decree is obviously going to be unanimous.

Even if the decree is ultimately upheld in court, there won’t be as much money available for the wall as Trump had hoped. Read this Roll Call rundown of the $6.7 billion in funds that Trump is trying to reallocate. There’s $3.6 billion in military construction money, $600 million in an asset forfeiture account at Treasury, and $2.5 billion in a Pentagon “counterdrug” fund — in theory. In reality, there’s almost nothing left in the counterdrug account and the only way to replenish it is to get Congress to agree to it. Which it won’t do.

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET