A Piece Of Resistance

Nobody likes the Vanity Project Penis Wall O’ Racism. Not even Republicans.

GOP unloads border angst on Pence

Vice President Mike Pence faced a wall of resistance from Senate Republicans on Tuesday as he tried to sell President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on the southern border, according to multiple GOP sources.

The pointed reception at the GOP lunch raised further doubts among Senate Republicans that the administration will be able to hold down defections on a crucial vote to block the president in the coming weeks.

“There was a lot of passion from some of our members. And I think there is some skepticism. People are just genuinely concerned that we’re doing the right thing,” said one Republican senator, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Pence told Republicans that Trump’s plan to unilaterally shift billions in military funding to border wall construction was not like President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, according to four attendees. He argued Trump is using an existing law and money approved by Congress, unlike Obama’s efforts to shield some immigrants from deportation.

The majority of the Senate GOP backs Trump, and many of them urged the party to back the president on Tuesday. But it appeared Pence’s pitch did little to move wavering GOP senators.

“I didn’t think his argument was very good. ‘We’ve got a crisis, that means the president can do this.’ That’s essentially the argument,” said a second Republican senator who is undecided on whether to stand with Trump.

As many as 10 Senate Republicans could support a resolution of disapproval if a vote were held today, according to four GOP senators who attended the lunch and heard Republican senators’ complaints. That’s far more than the four needed to pass the legislation on a simple majority and force Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency. Currently there are three public “yes” votes in the Senate GOP conference.

Pence did have some success in shoring up the president’s position, earning plaudits from GOP senators like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana, who said he was persuasive and convincing in arguing that the border is in a true state of emergency.

Pence is “hoping that people will rally around the president. Senators are going to vote the way they are going to vote. I think this really helped,” Graham said.

“We talked extensively about the factual and the legal basis,” Kennedy added. “I’m going to support the president. I think he’s right factually and I think he’s right statutorily. … There were some people who raised questions about it who will ultimately end up voting for [the disapproval resolution]. I’m not saying all of them.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously warned the president against declaring the emergency, acknowledged Tuesday that there was a “fulsome discussion” at the lunch between GOP senators and Pence and Justice Department officials.

And the Kentucky Republican said he himself is not sure about the legality of the national emergency declaration, though he has previously vowed to support the president in a floor vote.

“The [DOJ] lawyer was there to make his arguments. There were some counter arguments. I haven’t reached a total conclusion,” McConnell told reporters. “I personally couldn’t handicap the outcome at this point … but we will certainly be voting on it.”

More from Politico

Missing from Trump’s wall war: What immigration hawks really want

President Donald Trump sees his border wall crusade as a base-pleasing 2020 campaign asset, proof that he is the ultimate immigration hardliner.

But his wall may not be built for years, if ever. In the meantime, Trump has yet to deliver on several other campaign promises that immigration hawks call far more important — a failure that could cost him among conservatives demanding results on border security going into Trump’s reelection bid.

Over two years in the White House, Trump has struggled to execute numerous agenda items long on immigration hardliners’ wish list — like finalizing stricter regulations, overhauling the immigration court system, adding additional surveillance technology to the border, doing away with sanctuary cities and making sure employers electronically check the immigration status of all workers.

Instead, Trump has picked high-profile battles over a southern border wall and banning travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries that generated controversy and whipped up parts of his base, but did not do much to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. In fact, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border rose this past fall to levels not seen since 2014 under President Barack Obama, although they still remain low relative to historic numbers.

“The focus on the wall is a bit myopic,” said RJ Hauman, director of government relations at FAIR, a group that seeks to reduce immigration overall. “They are right to pursue fencing in some areas, but we need to remember: It is just one little cog in a much broader approach. Sometimes the wall can suck all of the air out of the room.”

Often Trump blames this lack of progress on uncooperative Democrats, recalcitrant Republicans and activist judges. But ultimately, the president might bear the blame as the campaign heats up.

How unpopular is the Declaration of Emergency? Thirteen Republicans and counting.

House Votes to Block Trump’s National Emergency Declaration About the Border
By Emily Cochrane, The New York Times
Feb. 26, 2019

The House voted on Tuesday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.

House Republican leaders kept defections low after feverishly working to assuage concerns among rank-and-file members about protecting congressional powers and about the precedent that Mr. Trump could be setting for Democratic presidents to use for their own purposes.

“Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is it to the Constitution of the United States?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her Republican colleagues in a speech on the floor ahead of the vote. “You cannot let him undermine your pledge to the Constitution.”

The resolution of disapproval, which passed 245 to 182, must now be taken up by the Senate, where three Republicans have already declared their support, only one short of the number needed for Congress to ratify a stinging rebuke of Mr. Trump’s efforts.

It remains highly unlikely that opponents will muster the votes to overturn a promised veto of the resolution. But final passage of a measure to assert Congress’s constitutional authority over spending is sure to bolster numerous lawsuits that maintain that Mr. Trump’s declaration is an unconstitutional end run around Congress’s lawful power of the purse.

Many of the 13 Republicans who defected in the House were adamant in their arguments. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a veteran lawmaker who once helped manage Republican efforts to remove Bill Clinton from the White House, made it clear he supported the border wall.

But, he said, “insufficient action — however frustrating it may be — is still the prerogative of the legislative branch. It is imperative that no administration, Republican or Democratic, circumvent the will of Congress.”

In the Senate, where lawmakers are required to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks, those concerns persisted. Even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader and an open supporter of the declaration, declined to offer his opinion on the legal merits.

“We’re in the process of weighing that,” Mr. McConnell said when asked at a news conference on Tuesday. “I haven’t reached a total conclusion.”

“You can’t blame the president for trying to use whatever tool he thinks he has to address it,” he added.

Democrats, who overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution of disapproval, framed the vote as an ultimatum on whether lawmakers would buck party loyalty in order to protect Congress’s constitutionally granted powers. Ms. Pelosi, in a floor speech on Tuesday, listed a number of instances in which House Republicans had objected to Mr. Obama’s use of executive power, vowing that “we are not going to give any president, Democratic or Republican, a blank check to shred the Constitution of the United States.”

Representative Joaquin Castro called the vote on the one-page resolution “the most important vote, probably in a generation, on the separation of powers.”

Mr. Castro, Democrat of Texas and the author of the resolution, warned Republicans that if the president’s declaration went unchallenged, the issue would resurface.

“If Congress lets this stand, if the courts let it stand, how am I to tell a future president that gun deaths that number in the tens of thousands every year in this country, or opioid deaths that number in the thousands in this country, are not an emergency?” Mr. Castro said in a brief interview. “Or climate change is not a national emergency?”

“If this becomes a short circuit to get other things done,” he added, “then how is a president not expected to use that tool in the future?”

“The Congress of the United States needs to have a spine, and not lay at the feet of the president,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader. “That’s not what the people elected us to do.”