Friday morning news: March 15, 2019


Senate votes to reject president’s emergency declaration » Lawmakers in the Senate firmly rejected President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border Thursday.

AUDIO: The yeas are 59, the nays are 41. The joint resolution has passed. 

Twelve Republicans voted with all Democrats on the measure.

Last month the president declared an emergency to access several billion dollars in funds for a border wall after Congress signed off on only a fraction of the money he requested.

Ohio’s Rob Portman was among the GOP senators said who the president is right about the need to control the border, but he overstepped his bounds.

PORTMAN: No president has ever used what’s called the National Emergencies Act in this way. As a result, it opens the door for future presidents to implement just about any policy they want, and to take funding from other areas Congress has already decided on without Congress’ approval. 

The Democratic-controlled House approved the same resolution last month. And while it sends a message to the White House, the measure will die with a stroke of the president’s veto pen. Prior to Thursday’s vote, President Trump told reporters…

TRUMP: It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably have to veto. And it’s not going to be overturned. 

Lawmakers do not currently have enough votes to reverse the veto.


Senate votes to end support for war in Yemen » Thursday’s vote marked the second time this week that the Republican-led Senate has defied the White House. Senators also voted to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The finally tally was 54 to 46, with seven Republicans breaking rank.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among those opposed to the measure. He said senators are right “to have great concerns over some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s behavior.”

MCCONNELL: Particularly the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is not what this resolution is about, however. 

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said the larger issue is U.S. involvement in a war without the approval of Congress.

DURBIN: Has there been a vote in the Senate for that? No. In the House? No. Does anyone here remember authorizing any U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen? 

The war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government forces has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Lawmakers have never before invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to stop a foreign conflict but they’re poised to do just that. The measure now moves to the Democratic-controlled House, where it’s expected to pass.


Beto O’Rourke announces White House bid » Another Democrat says he’s the man to beat President Trump in next year’s election.

O’ROURKE: Amy and I are happy to share with you that I am running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America. 

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke with that video announcement alongside his wife on Thursday.

After his announcement, O’Rourke wasted no time hitting the campaign trail in Iowa.

O’ROURKE: Let’s get behind our farmers around our producers. Let’s end these trade wars, and let’s make rural America successful by listening to rural America. 

The 46-year-old El Paso native served three terms in the House, leaving office in January. He gained national notoriety last year during his unsuccessful bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz.


Former Senator Birch Bayh dies » Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh died at his home on Thursday at the age of 91.

Bayh sponsored a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18 amid protests over the Vietnam War and another amendment allowing the replacement of vice presidents.

But he might be best known for sponsoring the 1972 Title IX federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports.

The Democrat won a narrow election to the Senate in 1962 at the 34 and served three terms.

BAYH: I come to you today to ask for your support and your help so that I may have the opportunity to continue to serve you in the United States Senate.

Bayh won reelection twice before his run in the Senate ended with a loss to Republican Dan Quayle in 1980.


British lawmakers vote to seek Brexit delay » With the UK set to leave the European Union in just two weeks and no divorce deal in place, British lawmakers voted Thursday to delay the country’s exit.

AUDIO: The ayes to the right 412. The nos to the left 202. So the ayes have it. The ayes have it.

But it’s not entirely up to them. The EU will now decide whether to approve or reject a Brexit extension. European officials have said they will only allow a delay if Britain either approves a divorce deal or makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.

Earlier this week, the British Parliament voted to rule out leaving without a divorce deal. But the EU’s Frans Timmermans had a word of caution.

TIMMERMANS: Just by saying we don’t want a no-deal Brexit doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If there isn’t an alternative or if there isn’t an idea of what an alternative could be by the 29th of March, there might be a no-deal Brexit, even if nobody wants it. 

By law, Britain will leave the bloc on March 29th, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.

British lawmakers Thursday also rejected holding a second referendum on the EU exit.


Alleged leader of Gambino crime family killed » A gunman shot and killed a man federal prosecutors say was a top leader of New York’s notorious Gambino crime family. The shooting happened late Wednesday on Staten Island. The 53-year-old Francesco Cali suffered multiple gunshot wounds at his home just after 9 p.m.

Police have not arrested anyone in connection with his death.

The Gambino family was once among the most powerful criminal organizations in the U.S. until its top leaders landed in prison in the 1980s and 90s.


Rescuers in Nigeria call off search for survivors after building collapse » Rescuers in Nigeria have called off their search for survivors after a three-story building that housed a grade school collapsed. WORLD Africa reporter Onize Ohikere has that story.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: At least nine people are dead after the building crumbled to the ground on Wednesday in the coastal state of Lagos. Search teams worked around the clock and found one more body Thursday. But they were able to rescue 37 people from the rubble.

The building held a school on the top two floors as well as some apartments. It remains unclear what caused the building to fall. But building collapses are not uncommon in Nigeria, where construction codes are often not enforced.

In 2016, a five-story building collapsed in Lagos, killing 30 people.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.


(AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 file photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke laughs during a live interview with Oprah Winfrey on a Times Square stage at “SuperSoul Conversations,” in New York. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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