The first veto of Donald Trump’s presidency came in mid-March, after Congress balked at the White House’s emergency declaration on border-barrier construction. Seven months later, it happened again.
President Trump on Tuesday issued his second veto against legislation seeking to end his national emergency at the southwestern border, rejecting bipartisan objections to his efforts to obtain funds for a border wall.
His move, announced late Tuesday night, was expected and will return the resolution to Congress. It is unlikely to garner the two-thirds majority needed there to override the veto.
In case this isn’t obvious, it’s worth emphasizing that if Trump were politically confident about his position, and certain that the American mainstream was on his side about redirecting funds in defiance of Congress’ wishes, he wouldn’t have issued the veto late at night – during a Democratic presidential primary debate.
Nevertheless, this caught my eye for a couple of reasons. The first is that Trump may yet have to veto this same measure again. As regular readers may recall, under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can vote every six months on the president’s emergency declaration. Senate Democratic leaders have already forced the issue onto the floor twice – under these circumstances, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can’t block a vote – and they’ll likely do so again in the spring.
The second area of interest is the rarity of Trump’s use of his veto pen. For those keeping score, the list of measures vetoed by the Republican is quite short:
1. March 15, 2019: Trump vetoed a congressional effort to block his emergency declaration related to border barriers.
2. April 16, 2019: Trump vetoed a measure to end U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war.
3, 4, and 5. July 24, 2019: Trump vetoed three measures related to Saudi arms deals.
6. October 15, 2019: Trump vetoed another congressional effort to block his emergency declaration related to border barriers.
Or put another way, Trump has issued four vetoes intended to help Saudi Arabia, and two vetoes to redirect funds to the border in defiance of Congress’ wishes.
Nevertheless, Trump is on track to have the fewest vetoes of any American president since Warren Harding, whose presidency only lasted two years (1921 to 1923).