With bipartisan support, the House passed a measure a couple of weeks ago to block Donald Trump's emergency declaration, in which he granted himself the power to redirect funds to border barriers, in defiance of Congress and public will. Over the next day or two, the Republican-led Senate will vote on the same bill.
On the surface, the outcome seemed obvious. Several GOP senators have already stated publicly that they will vote for the measure, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceded to reporters last week that it will pass. Though proponents of the bill only need four Republican votes, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested last week the total could be as high as 10.
A lot can happen in a week, though.
A reporter asked Rand Paul yesterday whether he still believes there are 10 GOP votes in place to reject the White House's controversial policy. "Well, they're being beaten up right now, so if you see anybody that's got blood dripping out of their ear, they may be changing," he replied.
In this case, Team Trump isn't just pushing Senate Republicans to ignore their principles and toe the party line, though that's certainly part of the push. As the Washington Post reports, there's also a possible deal in the works.
Although four Republican senators have already announced they will vote to nullify the president's emergency declaration, one of them — Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) — publicly indicated Tuesday after a private meeting with Vice President Pence that he could change his position if the administration and senators strike a deal on revising the National Emergencies Act. That would be enough to kill the resolution in the Senate, provided no other GOP senators oppose Trump's declaration or alter their position.
The basic contours of the deal are as follows: if enough Senate Republicans agree to defeat the pending resolution, the White House will agree to changes to the National Emergencies Act -- the law that Trump appears to have abused through his emergency declaration, and the law that empowers Congress to block the presidential effort.
Though the details of the changes aren't yet available, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is reportedly taking the lead on revising the National Emergencies Act so as to limit presidential power going forward.
And if that doesn't sound to you like an especially good deal, your instincts are sound.