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Arizona senators split on Trump’s emergency declaration over border

PHOENIX — Arizona’s senators were split in their Thursday votes on President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally voted against a resolution to annul the border emergency Trump declared last month, while Democratic U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema voted in favor of it.

McSally said Wednesday that she would vote to uphold the resolution. Sinema did not reveal her vote until she got to the Senate floor.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 59-41 for a resolution to halt Trump’s emergency order. Trump has promised to veto it, and it is unlikely that Congress will have the votes to override him.

Yet the vote represents a remarkable break between Trump and Senate Republicans. It’s the first time Congress has used its power to reject a presidential emergency order.

The emergency declaration would allow the Pentagon to redirect money from other purposes to pay for the wall.

McSally said she supported the move because she was assured that it would not impact funding from military construction projects in Arizona.

“Arizonans know there is a humanitarian and security crisis at the border – drugs are killing and harming loved ones in communities everywhere,” she said in a statement.

“Now, it’s Congress’ turn to fully fund border security and our men and women in uniform.”

Sinema said in a Thursday statement that Congress should be the body to appropriate funds for border security.

“While there is more work for Congress to do, the emergency declaration undermines critical military assets across our country and unnecessarily puts at risk resources for Arizona servicemembers and national security,” she said.

McSally told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos last month that Trump has “every right” to declare an emergency.

But she said even though she shared his “goals and frustrations,” she wished they could be achieved another way.

“I prefer that it didn’t come to that. I prefer Congress do our job and stop playing political games with something that used to be bipartisan, which is border security,” she said.

Democratic 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly criticized McSally’s position in a statement, saying her decision makes clear “she is not the independent voice Arizona deserves.”

Kelly said in a statement he supports border barriers “where they make sense,” but Trump’s emergency declaration is a bad precedent that goes around the constitution. He said he’d vote to overturn it.

Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump in a showdown many GOP senators had hoped to avoid because he commands die-hard loyalty from millions of conservative voters who could punish defecting lawmakers in next year’s elections.

In a measure of how remarkable the confrontation was, Thursday was the first time Congress has voted to block a presidential emergency since the National Emergency Act became law in 1976.

Even before Thursday’s vote, there were warnings that GOP senators resisting Trump could face political consequences.

A White House official said Trump won’t forget when senators who oppose him want him to attend fundraisers or provide other help. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on internal deliberations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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