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Sen. Martha McSally says she will support President Trump's border emergency

Posted: 4:42 PM, Mar 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-13 23:01:49-04
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PHOENIX — Arizona Sen. Martha McSally said Wednesday she'll vote to uphold President Donald Trump's emergency declaration freeing up money to build a wall on the southern border.

McSally, a Republican appointed to her seat in January, had avoided taking a position on Trump's emergency declaration ahead of an expected vote in the Senate to nullify it. The emergency declaration allows the Pentagon to redirect money from other purposes to pay for the wall.

McSally said in a statement she decided to support the emergency declaration after speaking with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. She said she received assurances that no military construction projects in Arizona would be affected during the current federal fiscal year, which ends in September.

"Now, it's Congress' turn to fully fund border security and our men and women in uniform," she said.

The decision to side with Trump is fraught with challenges for McSally, who is likely to face a tough competition in next year's election. Democrats are eyeing the seat long held by Republicans as a pickup opportunity that could help determine control of the Senate.

Mark Kelly, a Democrat and retired astronaut looking to unseat McSally, said 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.

The Democratically controlled House has voted to rescind Trump's emergency declaration and the Senate is expected to follow suit, though there are unlikely to be enough votes to overturn Trump's veto.

Pence called on McSally and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to support the emergency declaration during a visit to a Drug Enforcement Administration facility in Phoenix last week.

"Any vote against the president's national emergency declaration is a vote against border security," Pence said.

Sinema has not said how she would vote, though she has said she's concerned about losing funding for Arizona military installations and ceding Congress' authority over government spending.