What is the purpose of the measure disapproving of Trump's national emergency being pushed by Congress if they know Trump is just going to veto it, since they're nowhere near enough votes to override the veto?

Is the aim to somehow impact the 2020 election? Or might there be other more direct consequences/motivations behind disapproving the state of emergency in such a highly-visible manner?

  • 7
    Do they know they don't have enough votes to override the veto? To even get to Trump's veto, does this measure have to pass the senate? If it does, then it would need at least some Republican votes. Assuming it does pass house and senate, Trump's veto would show a measure of disregard for the Legislative branch, is there no-one who would vote to override the veto even if they would not have voted for the bill initially to show the Executive Branch is not supreme?
    – Jontia
    Mar 5, 2019 at 16:27
  • 4
    "...if they know Trump is just going to veto it." Do they know that for sure? It's very likely, yes, but Trump has backed down before when faced with opposition, both in business and in politics.
    – Geobits
    Mar 5, 2019 at 16:36
  • @Jontia while it looks like they will have enough votes to pass the bill, it already didn't have enough votes to override any possible vetoes. It takes 2/3 majority in both houses to override.
    – RWW
    Mar 5, 2019 at 18:13
  • 1
    @RWW just because the bill does not have 2/3 it does not lock in the override votes. Depending on how Trump handles the veto he many cause legislators who voted against the bill to vote for the override. This is obviously pretty speculative, but odd things happen a lot recently.
    – Jontia
    Mar 5, 2019 at 20:11
  • 3
    I think the point is... there is a legal mechanism to veto a declaration if they don't deem it an authentic national emergency, and some members of congress honestly deem it to be not a national emergency. That is the law working as it was designed.
    – John
    Mar 6, 2019 at 2:53

3 Answers 3


Votes that congresspeople know won't be signed, or even pass both chambers are voted on all the time Efforts to repeal ACA.

Often it's symbolic or a way for members to have their opposition to something official that they can use on campaigns. In this specific case, Congress in general feels that the President has overstepped his authority moving around funds that Congress has already authorized for specific projects.

There are also some on the Republican side that feel that this sets a dangerous precedent that the Democrats can use if/when they regain the White House. Even though it might not pass the veto, Republicans can still send a message that they will not allow Trump to take away their power.

Some links to news articles showing reasons for the vote:

Rand Paul vote

House vote

  • Why was this post downvoted?
    – RWW
    Jul 23, 2019 at 19:53

Not to change the topic but I believe there are potential legal impacts of a majority (but not super majority) passed Joint Resolution.

Specifically with respect to the appropriations the Administration would attempt to take under 10 U.S.C 2808 "Construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency" the targeted funds were first appropriated under prior Military Construction (MILCON) Appropriations Acts and are yet unobligated (essentially not contracted). Those funds were to be spent on a list of projects approved by Congress. The National Emergency use under 10 U.S.C. 2808 would deviate those funds from those projects to the wall. In any suits for Injunction to stop the use of funds under 10 U.S.C.2808 the majority passed but super majority failed Joint Resolution would still emphasize the intent of Congress to retain their original use of the funds at a level adequate for bill passage. As such, the vote bears on Members of Congress standing to sue (under Coleman v. Miller) and on the Constitutionality of 10 U.S.C. 2808 under a number of rationale the simplest being the last-passed-rule.

I hope this is the right place to "expand" on the standing point as requested by divibisan. Its apparently over the comment text limit.

First, suffice to say that standing in U.S. Federal Courts has been severely narrowed over the latter 20th Century. Standing for members of legislatures was pretty well narrowed to “personal injury in fact” with no derived standing from their office - except when the alleged wrong from which relief is sought nullified their votes.

The Case law is Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811 (1997) which cited Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433, 438 (1939), and in which the Court had recognized that legislators can in some instances suffer an injury in respect to the effectiveness of their votes that will confer standing. Specifically the Court in Raines chose to fasten on a particularly narrow point. “[O]ur holding in Coleman stands (at most . . . ) for the proposition that legislators whose votes would have been sufficient to defeat (or enact) a specific legislative Act have standing to sue if that legislative action goes into effect (or does not go into effect), on the ground that their votes have been completely nullified.” In the Emergency Declaration at hand, Congress by super majorities passed Military Construction Appropriations for a specified set of things and projects (See H.R. 5895 [115th Congress]) . The National Emergency using 10 U.S.C. 2808, a prior law on the books, will take some of those appropriations for something not on Congress set of things and projects unless Congress disapproves effectively by super majority override of the Presidents veto. So, Congress' votes to spend the money on their projects is nullified despite their clear intent to the contrary bsed on thier majority vote to disapprove. Without the attempted disapproval a Court might well refer them to available disapproval action in the National Emergencies Act. Having taken that step, the Members voting aye for the MILCON Appropriations have standing.

  • Could you expand on this point a bit? Why would a passed but vetoed resolution affect the ability of Congress to sue to overturn the declaration?
    – divibisan
    Mar 7, 2019 at 1:21
  • @divibisan He does offer an explanation on that (basically: it's a little harder for Congress to say he's unilaterally circumventing their will and powers if they can't even pass something to make that alleged will known), though I'm not quite sure how well the legal argument he makes actually reflects legal reality. Mar 7, 2019 at 8:08
  • @zibadawatimmy Yeah, that's what I was hoping he'd elaborate on. Is he saying there's a real precedent that this kind of resolution is required for standing to sue, or it is just a symbolic gesture of disapproval?
    – divibisan
    Mar 7, 2019 at 16:31
  • I don't know about this type of case in specific, but court decisions often hinge on "Congressional intent". It'd certainly be used as an argument by the plaintiffs in any suit, whether or not it ends up being determinative.
    – Bobson
    Mar 7, 2019 at 16:44
  • Please see the edited piece above for an expanded view on standing. Mar 8, 2019 at 4:05

In essence, it is a non binding vote of confidence or no confidence. This is a way for members of congress to comment on the proposed emergency action, or past use of executive orders. A US president can act without the approval of congress, the theory being that some situations arise so quickly that getting congressional approval would be too slow.

In this case, the claim of an actual emergency is somewhat dubious, as is the effectiveness of a physical wall. Going after the employers that pay the salaries of illegal immigrants... why they come here... would seem to be a more effective and less expensive solution, yet that isn't being proposed.

Congresspeople are using these resolutions to send a message to their constituents - this is how I feel on this particular subject... keeping in mind House terms are two years, so they're all up for re-election in one year. Congressional to executive communications aren't typically done in a public manner like this. These resolutions are more a public announcement of an impasse.

Consider another non binding resolution shot down by the House recently is HR1071. On the surface, it looks silly - recognizing that allowing non citizens to vote in the US devalues the votes of citizens. In reality, it's election year posturing, as opponents to current Dem representatives will certainly cite this vote in the 2020 house campaigns, even though the resolution has no real meaning.

This sort of exchange between legislative and executive branches as regards presidential authority is not without precedent. As recent as 2014-2106, when Obama faced a republican controlled senate, he resorted to executive orders that did not require congressional approval, specifically on issues such as DACA and the Paris Accords.

Both sides sort of have egg on their face on this one, because the very people who objected to Obama's use of executive orders as autocratic and against the will of the electorate, aren't protesting this. Nor are the people who approved of Obama's use of executive orders in defiance of congress, supporting this similar use of executive power. As an example of the awkward position all of congress has put itself in, consider this recent Hill article that points out the McConnell was right, in 2014.

Of course, that begs the question of why The Hill didn't write that article in 2014... but that's another debate entirely.

The danger here is that a future president's ability to react quickly to a changing situation by issuing an immediate order can be in trouble. Sadly, both parties have abused the concept of presidential authority.

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