President Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding President Trump used his veto pen for the first time Friday. GOP senators who bucked the president in Thursday's vote said they did so to preserve congressional control over government spending.
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Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding

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Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding

Trump Vetoes Congressional Effort To Limit Border Wall Funding

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A showdown over border security and the limits of presidential power came to a head at the White House this afternoon. President Trump used his veto power for the first time, challenging congressional Democrats and some members of his own party. He vetoed a congressional resolution that would have limited spending on his controversial border wall.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it.

SHAPIRO: This comes after 12 Republican senators joined Democrats in an effort to regain control of the government's purse strings. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us from the White House. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What does this veto mean for the border wall?

HORSLEY: Well, it means the wall can go forward with a price tag billions of dollars higher than Congress had authorized. Remember, the president wanted $5.7 billion for the wall. Congress would only give him $1.3 billion. This was why we had a government shutdown for 35 days. It's why the president declared an emergency last month. Both the House and Senate voted to block that emergency declaration. And that's the move that the president vetoed today. Trump insists the country needs a more expensive and expansive border wall to deal with a surge of illegal border crossings.

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TRUMP: We're on track for 1 million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People hate the word invasion, but that's what it is. It's an invasion of drugs and criminals and people.

SHAPIRO: Fact check that for us, Scott. Are we seeing a big spike in border crossings?

HORSLEY: Well, we have seen a big increase in recent months. Last month, more than 76,000 people tried to cross the border. That's the highest in more than a decade. Many of those were women and - women and children coming from Central America. And that does put a strain on immigration enforcement.

We should add though, Ari, Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, who was also Homeland Security secretary for a time, told NPR that for the most part, those Central American migrants are not criminals. They are not dangerous. And what's more, many of them voluntarily surrender to Border Patrol agents when they do cross the border. So it's not clear a wall is really the best way to address those increased numbers.

SHAPIRO: This veto is not the end of the fight over the border wall. What happens next?

HORSLEY: The president's Congressional critics don't appear to have the votes to override the president's veto. But the emergency declaration does still face a variety of legal challenges. Trump insists it will pass constitutional muster. But even some Republican lawmakers are not so sure about that. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is one of a dozen Republican senators who voted to block the additional wall spending.

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LAMAR ALEXANDER: This would be the first time that a president has ever asked for a certain amount of money from Congress. Congress has refused to provide it. And then the president has declared a national emergency under the 1976 Act and said I'm going to spend the money anyway.

HORSLEY: Now, the president said today he didn't lean on the Republicans who feel the way that Senator Alexander did. But he stressed that most Republicans in the Senate did vote to uphold his emergency declaration.

SHAPIRO: Scott, on another subject, the president talked about the deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand. What did he have to say there?

HORSLEY: The president spoke by phone earlier today with the prime minister of New Zealand and told her the U.S. stands in solidarity with her country as it copes with what he called a horrific event. The president, who spends a good deal of time talking about crimes carried out by immigrants, was also asked if he thinks white nationalism is a growing threat. And Trump said he doesn't think so. According to the Anti-Defamation League, all 50 of the extremist killings in this country last year were carried out by extremists on the right.

SHAPIRO: Scott, before I let you go, I need to mention that today is your last day covering the White House after 10 years on the beat. Four of those years I shared the beat with you. Before you go cover economics for us, what are you going to miss about covering the White House?

HORSLEY: Well, Ari, as you know, it is like riding a roller coaster for 10 straight years. But it has been a rare privilege to have had a window seat on two presidents now as they made history. And even on the toughest days, when you walk outside and you look up at that beautiful white building and think about everything it stands for - for people in this country and around the world - it's been a rare treat. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

SHAPIRO: Thank you for your great work over the years. NPR's Scott Horsley joining us from the White House.

HORSLEY: Thank you.

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