White House bracing for embarrassing rebuke of Trump’s national emergency

14 MAR 19 10:24 ET

(CNN) — The White House is bracing for an embarrassing rebuke when the Senate votes on a resolution Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the US border with Mexico.

Despite the pressure campaign they waged for the last week, Trump’s top aides now say as many as 14 Republican senators are poised to break with the President.

Trump has told his staff he’s resigned to issuing his first veto after it became clear over the past day that enough Republicans will support the measure. Now, his focus is stemming the margin by which the bill will pass. Trump hopes the number of “yes” votes will stay below 60, a symbolic margin that he believes would save some embarrassment, though still require him to use his veto pen.

In internal conversations, Trump has characterized the vote as a loyalty test, even though some of those who say they will vote for it, including Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul, have proven to be allies on other issues in the past. Even as members of his staff were focused Wednesday on managing the Boeing plane crisis, Trump himself remained preoccupied with the looming vote, according to people who spoke with him.

Trump had accepted the likely defeat, but remained intent on knowing who would vote with him and who would break ranks.

He’s fired off tweets. He’s made direct appeals to lawmakers over the phone. And senators who attended a Wednesday meeting on trade also heard a bid from Trump on the national emergency, though at that stage he had already conceded the vote would likely pass.

Lawmakers who are typically allies of the President are facing a tough decision: break with Trump or vote against something they agree with.

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