GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union

A key Republican senator is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE not to declare a national emergency over the southern border during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

"I would hope he wouldn't do that yet — I think under the Constitution and under some statutes he's probably got some grounds to do that, but I'd rather work the legislative deal and see if it happens,” Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight Immigration fight imperils deal on disaster aid package MORE (R-Ala.) told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is helping lead a bipartisan conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers negotiating a border security package to prevent another partial government shutdown.

Trump has hinted that he may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a border wall unless the group of lawmakers can come up with funding for a wall. Current funding for a quarter of the government is set to run out on Feb. 15.

GOP Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw MORE (N.D.) said Tuesday that he also wants Trump to wait until the funding deadline before broaching the issue of declaring a national emergency.

Cramer said he agreed with Trump's assessment that there "is a crisis" at the border but pushed back on immediately declaring an emergency, saying, "We have until Feb. 15 to get our job done as members of Congress, we ought to do it."

Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Trump has decided not to declare an emergency at the border during his address Tuesday night.

Trump's address Tuesday will be his first since Democrats entered the majority in the House last month, and at least four Democratic lawmakers intend to skip the nationally televised speech.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief Iran, Venezuela puts spotlight on Trump adviser John Bolton MORE (R-Okla.) argued that boycotting the speech “just fans the flames” and bolsters GOP claims that Democrats aren’t willing to work with Trump.

“After all, he is the president and so if that happens I think that will be negative,” Inhofe said.

He added that some Democrats "maybe would not want to just show up because they don't know how to respond.”

“The whole world is watching this thing — and so if they come off just blatantly partisan I think that would probably end up serving another purpose,” Inhofe said.

Lawmakers traditionally use the State of the Union to display support or opposition to White House policies. In past years, that has included some booing or yelling from the House floor during the speech.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (R-Maine) said she hopes her colleagues will act “like adults tonight.”

"I hope both sides of the aisle will behave appropriately and with respect. This is the president of the United States — and I've been at other States of the Union where the decorum was not what it should have been. … I hope we can all act as adults tonight,” she said in an interview with Hill.TV.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick Casey2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues Why Congress needs to bring back tax deduction for worker expenses Biden cements spot as 2020 front-runner MORE Jr. (Pa.) decried how much attention is put on applause during the speech and whether certain lawmakers decide to stand or sit.

"This whole exercise has lost a lot of its dignity over the last 15 years," he told Hill.TV on Tuesday.

"I just think we should listen, more take it in and then get to work after it," he added.

Should Trump decide to use the speech to declare a national emergency to build a border wall, the Pennsylvania Democrat suggested that the chamber should react with "silence."

"I think the reaction should be silence. I think it's inappropriate to start booing and things like that, but obviously he’s not going to have much support on either side for that,” he said.

— Molly Hooper