Oklahoma’s members of Congress split along party lines in Tuesday’s historic vote in the House of Representatives to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration of a crisis along the U.S.- Mexico border.
All four of Oklahoma’s Republican Representatives, Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin, voted against the measure, which was the first such vote in Congress since presidents were given the power in 1976. Only Rep. Kendra Horn (D) voted to block the emergency declaration. The measure passed 245- 182.
Before the vote, Cole called the emergency declaration an “unwelcome precedent” but said the president as within his legal right to make the declaration. The Representative continued to blame Democrats for forcing the President to declare the emergency and said Tuesday’s vote was less about the constitution and more about scoring political points against Mr. Trump.
“We've got to the point that this was more about defeating President Trump than it was about taking care of a national security problem on the southern border,” Cole said on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Other members of Oklahoma’s delegation also blamed Democrats while appearing to be somewhat squeamish over the precedent for executive power the declaration could set.
“Providing appropriations to our nation’s vital programs and various agencies and departments is one of the most important roles Congress is granted,” Lucas said in a statement after the vote. “Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats are refusing to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the Southern border.”
On Twitter, Mullin gave a full throated defense of Mr. Trump.
“U.S. presidents have the lawful right to declare a national emergency in times of great crisis. Without a doubt, our county (sic) is in the midst of a crisis.” Mullin wrote. Mullin has been one of the president’s more ardent supporters in the House and among Oklahoma’s delegation.
In a statement, Horn disagreed with her Republican colleagues. "Our country’s founders gave the power of the purse to Congress, not the President,” she wrote. "This is not an emergency, it is a blatant constitutional violation, and it strips billions of dollars from our armed forces." Horn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has pledged to try to minimize any impact to Tinker Air Force base.
It's still unclear whether Mr. Trump was allowed to declare the situation along the southern border an actual national emergency. Legal experts believe that will likely be decided in the courts, something the President acknowledged at the time of the official declaration announcement.
The bill to overturn the emergency now moves on to the Senate where it is expected to fail. Only Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) said he supports the declaration immediately after it was announced. He has since not said whether he’d vote against the measure when it’s heard in the Senate. Sen. James Lankford (R) has also refrained from saying how he’ll vote telling reporters he’s waiting to see from where the President plans to pull the more than $6 billion to fund his border barrier. The Senate is expected to hear the measure in the coming weeks.