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Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

For the third time over the last two decades, first responders and other survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks have come to Congress to ask for help. The question this time around is whether Senate Republicans will force them to repeatedly drag themselves back this year to beg for their country’s support as more continue to die.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) landed a rather interesting endorsement on Thursday.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) threw his support to Sanders, making him the first member of Congress to endorse a presidential candidate from a state outside his own. Khanna will serve as one of Sanders’ national campaign co-chairmen.

“Every 50 years, there is someone who can fundamentally alter the course of American politics,” Khanna said in a statement released by Sanders’ campaign. “Bernie Sanders has the chance to reorient our economic policy towards workers and communities left behind instead of corporate interests and to reorient our foreign policy to prioritize peace, diplomacy and restraint instead of war.”

The endorsement is a slight to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) — Khanna represents a district in Harris’ Bay Area home region.

Khanna has worked to become a leading progressive voice in the House in his two terms in Congress, joining the House Progressive Caucus and regularly speaking out on foreign policy and economic issues. Khanna has partnered with Sanders a few times on legislation, sponsoring the House version of Sanders’ bills to force large corporations like Amazon to pay a living wage to workers and another bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices.

His elevation into Sanders’ inner circle means he’ll likely serve as a leading surrogate for the senator’s campaign. Notably, three of Sanders’ four campaign co-chairs are nonwhite, a sign that Sanders is making a heavy effort to reverse his campaign’s male-dominated, heavily white 2016 campaign structure. If Sanders is going to win the Democratic nomination, he’ll have to significantly improve his 2016 performance among nonwhite and female voters. Sanders’ other co-chairs are Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D), who’s headed the pro-Sanders Our Revolution PAC, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, and Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen.

Khanna has legislated as a staunch progressive, but ran as a much more moderate, pro-Silicon Valley candidate in both 2016 and 2014, when he challenged then-Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).

His support could help Sanders make some inroads in the state, though Khanna is not particularly well-known outside of Washington, D.C. and endorsements rarely matter much in terms of moving voters.

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President Trump’s emergency declaration for the southern border could lead to the most visible rejection from key members of his party since he became president. The question is how many will decide to stand up to him.

Almost two dozen Republican senators expressed some level of reservation about Trump’s emergency declaration, with many of them wary about potential executive overreach. A half-dozen of them either face reelection fights in swing states where Trump isn’t particularly popular or plan to retire soon, giving Trump little power over them.

The declaration can’t be filibustered and needs just 51 votes to pass the Senate, meaning just four Republicans would need to cross Trump if all Democrats hold together on the vote. If it passes, that would put Trump in the awkward position of issuing his first veto — and generate another set of headlines drawing national attention to a move that polls show is unpopular with voters.

Among those two dozen were four who expressed clear opposition: Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). All four have less reason to stay with Trump than many in their party. Paul and Lee regularly break with their party on issues they see as fundamentally unconstitutional or a violation of the separation of powers. Alexander, a pragmatic lawmaker who already bucked Trump on and voted with Democrats last month to reopen the government without border funding, is retiring. Tillis is facing a potentially tough reelection in a swing state.

Others may join them.

The most likely candidates: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was highly critical of Trump’s move. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) both expressed reservations about Trump’s border wall move, both of them face potentially tough reelection fights, and both voted with Democrats to reopen the government last month without giving Trump his wall money.

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) voted with them and have criticized the deal. Romney has been happy to buck Trump, while Isakson is viewed as a retirement possibility in 2022, though he’s said he’ll run.

There are even more Republicans to watch, though they might not be as likely to split with their president, especially after the Democratic-controlled House passes the plan.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also has been skeptical of Trump’s wall, criticized the president’s emergency declaration, and could face a tough 2020 race in a state where border politics are much more nuanced and complicated than they are nationally.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sharply criticized Trump’s move, but has been more talk than action in standing up to the president. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) bashed Trump’s move as well, and doesn’t face reelection until 2022. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) also criticized Trump’s move, though a 2020 primary threat might make him wary of voting against Trump.

It’s unclear at this point when these votes will occur. The House will vote first, and the Senate by law under the National Emergencies Act must take up a vote within 18 days. Congress is on recess this week. That means a vote could happen sometime around the Ides of March next month — an inauspicious time for the president.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced he’ll run for president Tuesday morning. While he brings some huge advantages to his second stab at the White House that he didn’t have last time around, including a strong brand and the loyal following he built in the 2016 campaign, he faces some significant new challenges he didn’t have last time around

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