- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2019

President Trump was so eager to drop his first veto on Congress that within the first 24 hours, his campaign sent out three separate fundraising appeals to supporters bragging about the move and asking them to donate to show their support.

Mr. Trump wasted no time issuing his veto just a day after the Senate voted to halt his border emergency declaration. The White House even held a rare veto ceremony to give the president a big stage.

He said Congress had the “freedom” to try to stop him, but he had the “duty” to counter it with the veto. He then took his case straight to voters, saying the clash over border security and his marquee campaign promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will define the two parties heading into 2020.

“Liberals in the Senate chose politics, I chose you,” Mr. Trump said in a campaign fundraising email over the weekend, touting his “Official Wall Defense Fund.”

The border wall emergency as a policy is underwater in the polls. Even the president’s favorite pollster, Rasmussen Reports, has found 50 percent opposed and just 44 percent in favor of the emergency declaration.

But Mr. Trump has signaled that he is not worried about the general public.

In his fundraising appeals, he said he asked “American Patriots (the people that matter)” about the wall, and more than 93 percent said they backed his veto. That was apparently a reference to a previous Trump campaign email soliciting his supporters’ views.

The president’s veto is not the last word on the matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said her chamber will vote next week to try to overturn the veto.

Democrats have an uphill battle, though. In the vote to pass the resolution late last month, the House didn’t come close to mustering the two-thirds vote needed to surmount the veto.

Democrats’ best hope for swaying Republicans is to make the issue local by pointing to projects that could be delayed or canceled if their funding is siphoned away for the wall.

To that end, they have been trying to pry loose from the Pentagon a list of projects that could be on the delay list. Senate Democrats thought they had an agreement to get the list last week, but acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan didn’t deliver on his promise.

On Sunday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney cast doubt on the prospects for such a list.

“I know of no list,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

Whatever projects might be affected can be salvaged by Congress, which Mr. Mulvaney said can “backfill” the money Mr. Trump is taking from the military construction accounts.

Mr. Trump last month signed a spending bill that included $1.375 billion in border wall money approved by Congress. He then issued a declaration calling the border situation an emergency, triggering powers under the National Emergencies Act to shift funding.

He directed the Treasury Department to shift $601 million from a forfeiture fund and then ordered the Pentagon to tap as much as $2.5 billion in drug interdiction money and up to $3.6 billion in military construction money to go toward the wall.

The emergency declaration applies to the construction money.

After Mr. Trump’s veto last week, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the president showed contempt for Congress and the Constitution.

“There is no emergency,” Mr. Schumer said. “While the president has chosen to trample all over the Constitution, we Democrats in the Senate will never stop defending our country from an overreaching president.”

A number of activist groups have sued, asking the courts to rule the emergency declaration either illegal or unconstitutional.

But Attorney General William P. Barr, who was in the Oval Office for the veto, said Mr. Trump is on firm legal footing.

“What you’ve done from a legal standpoint is solidly grounded in law,” he said.

Vice President Mike Pence said the president was checking off his campaign promise.

“You’re keeping your word by vetoing this legislation,” he told Mr. Trump.

Often, a veto is something a president uses reluctantly and signs it out of sight. Mr. Trump, though, reveled in it once it became clear that the Senate wouldn’t be able to keep enough Republicans on board to block the measure.

“VETO!” he said in his first tweet minutes after the Senate’s vote.

Hosting a veto ceremony is also rare, though not unheard of.

President Obama held a ceremony to veto a defense policy bill in 2015, and President Clinton held ceremonies to veto a spending-cuts bill in 1995, a measure to limit late-term abortions in 1996 and a Republican-written tax-cut bill in 1999.

Overall, Mr. Obama used his veto power 12 times in two terms, as did President George W. Bush. Mr. Clinton dropped 37 vetoes on Congress, President George H.W. Bush notched 44, and President Ronald Reagan had 78.

The record-holder is President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with 635 across his more than three terms.

President Andrew Johnson holds a record, with 15 vetoes overturned by a hostile Reconstruction-era Congress.

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