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Citing constitutional concerns, Rooney votes to override veto

By Staff | Apr 1, 2019

On March 26, Florida Congressman Francis Rooney voted against President Donald Trump’s veto of a resolution to reverse his National Emergency Declaration issued a month earlier.

The declaration’s goal was to create a way for the government to build a wall between the United States and Mexico border at a cost of billions of dollars. Last year, Congress denied the funding and plans for the wall, a hallmark of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign

Rooney, a Republican who represents Florida’s 19th district, which covers Southwest Florida, said his vote to override the veto was based on the U.S. Constitution and had nothing to do with Trump.

“We need to secure our southern border and control who enters and leaves,” Rooney said. “This can be accomplished with the right combination of defensive barriers including walls and fences, surveillance technology, and vigorous enforcement of our laws.”

Lawmakers voted 248-181 on March 26 in favor of overturning the president’s veto, which was 38 votes shy of the required two-thirds majority. This means Trump can now move forward on building the border wall unless otherwise challenged.

“If a border wall, combined with other measures and more enforcement, can stop illegal entries and encourage legal ones, everywhere in the country, including Florida, will benefit,” Rooney said in an email. “Securing the border is a precondition to resolving the problems in our current immigration, visa and asylum.”

Rooney also said in a statement that his vote was based on the rule of law and the Constitutional separation of powers.

“Although it is true that there have been over 60 national emergency declarations since 1976, no previous declaration was in direct contrast to a vote of Congress and none dealt with appropriation and allocation of money,” he said. “Which is the sole responsibility of the Congressional branch.”

After the vote, Trump took to Twitter to support GOP lawmakers for standing in solidarity with the White House on the issue.

He tweeted: “Thank you to the House Republicans for sticking together and the BIG WIN today on the Border. Today’s vote simply reaffirms Congressional Democrats are the party of Open Borders, Drugs and Crime!”

Rooney says he believes in legal and orderly immigration to provide the workers we need to grow our economy.

“America has a history of welcoming legal immigrants that integrate into our nation and build families, create businesses, and prosper as members of our communities,” he said. “Conversely, illegal immigration is a risk to our citizens and national security. We have to know who is in our country and state.”

Rooney says the country’s air border is a significant risk as well.

“About one-half of the people who are illegally in the U.S. right now arrived on a legal visa and overstayed it,” he said. “We have no means of policing overstays.”

He also thinks Congress should address the asylum process, adding, “as many illegal immigrants have used asylum applications without merit as a stalling tactic to delay possible deportation.”

In the 115th Congress, Rooney introduced legislation to tighten border security, move to skill-based immigration, and reform visa enforcement and the asylum process. He says he will re-introduce those ideas in the 116th Congress.

“We must secure our border and control who enters and leaves, which is a fundamental responsibility of every sovereign nation,” Rooney said. “We know that a combination of wall, personnel and technology has led to a reduction in illegal border crossings.”