Senate Votes to Overturn Trump’s Emergency Declaration to Fund Wildlife-Harming Border Wall
The U.S. Senate voted 59 to 41 Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund a border wall that would threaten 93 endangered species and devastate the environment and communities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The Senate vote comes a little over two weeks after a similar vote by the House of Representatives. Trump announced his intention to "VETO!" the resolution on Twitter Thursday, and Congress needs a two-thirds majority to override a veto, which is seen as unlikely. Nevertheless, the Senate vote will be seen as an embarrassment for the president, BBC News reported.
VETO!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1552590991.0
Twelve Republicans broke ranks to vote with Senate Democrats against the emergency declaration. They were Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
The Sierra Club, which has filed a lawsuit against the emergency declaration, celebrated the Senate's bipartisan rebuke.
"Today, 59 Senators put party aside, and put our democracy first. Senators on both sides of the aisle rejected the President Trump's attempt to violate the Constitution and circumvent Congress in order to drive his unpopular, hateful agenda," Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a statement. "Sierra Club applauds the Senate for pushing back against the militarization of safe towns and more destructive border walls in communities."
Big results in the U.S. Senate vote today to end the bogus 'emergency' on the border! #NoBorderWall It's doomed to… https://t.co/R9dt4bG0kY— Sierra Club Borderlands (@Sierra Club Borderlands)1552603200.0
However, many of the Republican rebels were not motivated by opposition to the border wall itself. Rather, they expressed concerns about what a future Democratic president would do with a precedent that allows the president to declare emergencies to fund favored political projects. Portman voiced fears similar methods would be used to take future environmental actions in particular, CNN reported.
"[A] future President may well say that climate change is a national emergency and use emergency authorities to implement the Green New Deal," Portman said, referring to a 10-year plan championed by progressive Democrats and climate activists to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels while creating jobs and tackling inequality.
Trump issued the emergency declaration last month after Congress refused to authorize $5.7 billion in funding for the wall during a standoff that led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. However, the Center for Biological Diversity noted that the bipartisan bill that eventually funded the government did include almost $1.4 billion for around 55 miles of fencing in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, which will damage ecosystems and communities there. Trump has asked for $8.6 billion in wall funding in his 2020 budget.
In a rare bipartisan push, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major public lands package on Tuesday… https://t.co/r7qYOSF7DH— John Lundin 🌊 (@John Lundin 🌊)1550151386.0
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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