President Donald Trump’s push to fund a border wall using emergency funds emerged successfully on Tuesday from a battle waged between Congress and the White House.
The failure to reach a compromise caused Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency on March 15, while Georgia and Athens-area politicians voted in line with his ideals along the way.
It started when Trump declared a national emergency on Feb. 15 in order to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without funding from Congress. Congress passed a resolution to overturn Trump’s declaration on March 14, but Trump’s veto ensured his declaration would stand.
The House voted 248-181 Tuesday in favor of overriding Trump’s veto but failed to gain the support of two-thirds of the body, as required by the U.S. Constitution.
Scott Ainsworth, head of the UGA political science department, predicted Congress would not pursue an override, as fewer than 10 percent of presidential vetoes have been overridden by Congress. Congress, however, tried to overturn it anyway.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who represents Athens-Clarke County as part of Georgia District 10, voted with the majority of Republican representatives to not overturn Trump’s national emergency. U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson from Georgia voted with the majority of Republican senators to uphold the national emergency.
Faculty and students at the University of Georgia weighed in on Trump’s first veto.
Jamie Carson, a UGA political science professor, said Trump’s declaration of the national emergency stems from a motive to please his voter base, who calls for strengthening border security between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Some of the Senate argued that he has the ability to reallocate funds already, so he doesn’t really need to declare the national emergency,” Carson said. “I feel a lot of this action is responding to his constituent base.”
Carson said Congress’ inability to overturn Trump’s veto will likely land in the U.S. courts to determine if his declaration is valid.
The challenges Trump faces in his declaration are not unheard of, but he’s in a unique situation because the movement of funds typically falls under Congress’ authority, Carson said.
Thinking in the long run, Carson said he believes the optics of the situation won’t affect Trump’s reelection in 2020, and he said the Senate Republicans who voted with Democrats likely did so for their own “electoral futures.”
Jack Henry Decker, a sophomore political science and sociology double major from Atlanta, said Trump’s declaration of a national emergency is “unprecedented.”
“If you look at the actual facts about what's happening at the border, it doesn't really have any backing in policy or statistics,” Decker said. “[It’s] mostly just fear and hate-driven rhetoric to try to stir up his base for 2020.”
Mathilde Carpet, a senior international affairs major from Roswell, agreed with Decker and said Trump’s declaration requires “more evidence to support [his] drastic actions.” Carpet said Trump may set a precedent for going against Congress.
“Both branches of the legislative branch have now explicitly forbidden him from doing this, and he still keeps going,” Carpet said.
The UGA chapter of College Republicans declined to comment for this story. The ACC Republican Party and UGA chapter of Turning Point USA did not respond to The Red & Black’s requests for comment.