President Trump used his veto power for the first time Friday to overturn a congressional resolution that would have blocked him from using defense funds to build the border wall with Mexico. The numbers did not make it to the level required to override a veto, meaning Trump would secure his plans despite congressional disapproval.
"I'm very proud to veto it", he added.
Trump made the construction of a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile-long US-Mexico border a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign, saying Mexico would pay for it.
He hit his usual (exaggerated) talking points on the drugs and criminals pouring over the border and said that Democrats and Republicans could come to an accord on "catch and release" laws in "15 minutes" if the political will was there. After many had spoken, Trump dramatically signed his veto message and then held the document up for the cameras to capture.
The president made a border wall a central promise of his 2016 campaign for the White House.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., had said he would oppose the declaration but reversed course on the Senate floor, saying that he was "sympathetic" to Trump's push to deal with the crisis at the border. The measure ultimately passed 59-41, and Trump immediately vowed to veto.
"The president acted well within his discretion in declaring a national emergency concerning the southern border", the Justice Department argues in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Washington Post.
While Congress is unlikely to muster the votes to override the veto, the rebuke from some members of his own party left Trump politically wounded, at least temporarily, as immigration and his planned wall along the us southern border become a flashpoint again in the 2020 presidential campaign.
In challenging Trump on Thursday, only one Republican who is up for re-election next year - Susan Collins of ME - voted for the disapproval resolution. "To me, border security is national security".
"The Democrat-sponsored resolution would terminate vital border security operations by revoking the national emergency issued last month", Trump continued.
On Friday, Barr also said the president's emergency order was "clearly authorized under the law".
Lee, meanwhile, had introduced a bill that would end future emergency declarations after 30 days, in an effort to allow Republicans to vote against the resolution.