The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with a measure that gives President Donald Trump emergency authority to declare a state of national emergency, and give it the power to impose restrictions on imports of lifesaving drugs and devices, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Senators were expected to vote later Wednesday on the measure.
The measure would give Trump the power “to declare a national emergency,” and would give the president the authority to impose regulations on imports.
It would also give him the power, as well as to designate a federal emergency agency, to impose mandatory testing requirements on people traveling to the country from certain countries.
A final Senate vote on the bill is expected to come in early Thursday.
Trump said during a visit to the West Coast last week that he had already approved emergency declarations for California and Washington, D.C., and said he would sign the legislation.
He said he also was considering issuing emergency declarations in Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the measure would provide Trump with the authority he needed to “do the right thing” in an emergency situation, while Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D,Ore., said it would “defeat” efforts to repeal Obamacare.
“This is about the president being able to take immediate action in a time of crisis,” Blumenau said.
Democrats in both chambers said the bill was necessary to stem the spread of the coronivirus, which has killed more than 18,000 people and infected more than 14,000.
The Senate approved the bill Tuesday, as a procedural vote to pass the measure is usually required to pass legislation.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that he supported the measure because it gives Trump “the ability to act without Congressional approval.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D -N.Y., said he was encouraged that the Senate had voted for emergency authority.
“It will give him more flexibility to deal with this crisis without worrying about the American people being inconvenienced,” Schumer said.
A Senate spokesman said Democrats plan to vote on a bill to make the emergency declaration on Wednesday afternoon.