‘Why have this additional controversy when it could be done in a less controversial way …’
(Andrea Drusch, Brian Murphy and Bryan Lowry; McClatchy Washington Bureau) A Republican senator opposed to President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration is now scrambling to soften the blow with changes to a resolution of disapproval crafted by House Democrats.
The Democratic-controlled House passed a resolution to do so earlier this month, and the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote on it before leaving Washington for a state work period at the end of next week.
Four GOP senators say they plan to join Democrats in that vote, which would provide the simple majority needed to send it to the Oval Office.
Trump, however, has made clear that he would exercise the first veto of his presidency to send back the bill, where both chambers would need to furnish a two-thirds majority to override, in a scenario that is highly unlikely.
The defection has already stoked discussion of a 2020 primary challenge against North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis.
But Tillis took pains to clarify that he was opposing it for an entirely different reason than his liberal colleagues.
While Democrats—and RINO Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska—seek to undermine Trump’s efforts to enforce border control, Tillis and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., fear Trump’s use of executive action sets a dangerous precedent that would disrupt the balance of power between the two branches, as it did under President Barack Obama.
“The problem we have now is we have the Democrats saying you have to rescind it [the emergency declaration] because it’s a false crisis; it’s not a false crisis,” said Tillis, who published an op-ed in The Washington Post earlier this month vowing to vote in favor of the resolution rebuking Trump’s emergency declaration.
Tillis told McClatchy on Thursday that he was working on amendments to that resolution that would detangle his position from that of Democrats, who say there is no emergency at the border.
“We need to make a statement with respect to the crisis at the border and make it very clear that this is not us siding with Democrats on a false crisis,” Tillis said of his proposed changes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, “There will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president, and then in all likelihood, the veto will be upheld in the House.”
But by Thursday afternoon, GOP senators were attempting to change that course.
In a caucus meeting off of the Senate chamber they huddled to strategize ways to bring Republican skeptics back around to stop the legislation from advancing from the upper chamber.
“We’re looking at amendments, what the parliamentarian status is, and some other legislative options as well,” Tillis said.
“Some people say let’s go ahead and pass a resolution which gives the president up to the $5.6 billion and say we’re all for that, but basically disapprove of the emergency part,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team who plans to vote against the declaration of disapproval.
Another route, Cornyn said, “focuses on the money he [Trump] could reprogram without declaring a national emergency.”
Efforts to get the White House to drop the emergency declaration—and the presumed lengthy court battle to follow—and instead secure the money elsewhere have failed so far, Cornyn said.
“There’s money available that doesn’t require the declaration of a national emergency, and a number of our members have been talking to the White House about, why get involved in this litigation? Why have this additional controversy when it could be done in a less controversial way that’s less likely to require litigation?” he said. “Apparently the White House is not persuaded.”
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
(c)2019 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.