GOP Revolts: Republicans Against Trump’s Emergency Aren’t All Usual Detractors

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to reporters following a closed briefing on intelligence matters on Capitol Hill on December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
February 15, 2019 3:30 p.m.

While President Trump hoped to pacify his base with a national emergency declaration in exchange for his support of the bipartisan spending deal, he’s riled up a few of the usual detractors in his party, as well as a few of his most ardent defenders.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins’ (R-ME) disapproval was hardly surprising, given the pair often break with Trump’s agenda. Collins said she was “disappointed” by the decision and Murkowski said “this matter” doesn’t rise to the level of national emergency.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who occasionally severs himself from Trump’s policies too, came out against Trump’s intention, calling all executive actions “wrong” in a tweet.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who’s criticized Trump for being “impulsive,” didn’t hide his disapproval either. He told a reporter on Thursday that he “never though it was a good idea.”

“I still don’t,” he said, according to Vanity Fair. 

But several Republicans typically in the President’s corner offered burly rebukes of the action.

In a statement on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed concern about the precedent Trump’s declaration might set.

“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Rubio wrote. “Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal. I will wait to see what statutory or constitutional power the President relies on to justify such a declaration before making any definitive statement. But I am skeptical it will be something I can support.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called the national emergency “unnecessary” and “unwise,” per the Tennessean.

“It is unwise because if this President can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next President can declare a national emergency to tear it down,” Alexander said in a statement. He also called the declaration “inconsistent with the Constitution.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) echoed the point about what a Democratic President could do with the precedent of circumventing Congress with a national emergency declaration.

“It doesn’t matter who the President is or what party they belong to: I strongly believe in the separation of powers and curbing the kind of executive overreach that Congress has allowed to fester for the better part of the last century, including during the Obama administration,” he said in a statement.

“While I agree with President Trump’s policy goal, I don’t believe in situational principles, and it’s clear what kind of rabbit hole out country can go down when we have a Democratic President who wants more government intrusion into our economy and our lives,” he added.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), another staunch Trump ally, joined the chorus Friday saying that he’d encourage the President “not to go down the path” of a national emergency.

“The better approach is to force Congress to do its job,” Reed told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

And Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Politico he wished Trump “wouldn’t have done it.”

“If (Trump) figures that Congress didn’t do enough and he’s got to do it, then I imagine we’ll find out whether he’s got the authority to do it by the courts,” he said.

The funding bill has now passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting Trump’s signature.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) first announced Trump’s intention to piggyback a national emergency declaration to the omnibus funding bill Thursday, though White House officials have not yet determined from where they will shift the funds to pay for the wall.

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