Don’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall

Few House Republicans appear ready to defy President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE by backing a resolution that would stop his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border.

As Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Lies, damned lies and the truth about Joe Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE (D-Calif.) tees up a floor vote on a resolution to block Trump's unilateral move, most Republicans are set to line up in defense of their White House ally — despite some publicly voiced concerns about his action.

The reasons are both practical and political.

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With Democrats in control of the lower chamber, Republicans are powerless to block the disapproval resolution, which Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) introduced in the House on Friday morning.

Perhaps more importantly, polls indicate that Trump’s declaration enjoys the overwhelming support of Republican voters, leaving GOP lawmakers no cover to buck the president — particular on his signature issue of border security.

If some have lingering reservations about the move’s legality — or the possibility Trump could use dollars headed toward their districts to construct the wall — there’s little sense they want to invite a primary challenge next year.

“As long as Trump’s popularity with Republican voters remains in the high 80s to low 90s, it’s hard to see how the political laws of nature will change,” said Doug Heye, a former House GOP leadership aide and former spokesman at the Republican National Committee.

Case in point: Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsLawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank Democrats 'frustrated' by administration's coronavirus response after closed-door briefing Republicans sense momentum after impeachment win MORE. At a town hall this week, the Texas Republican was asked by a constituent if he supported Trump’s emergency declaration.

“No,” he replied to applause in the room, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Williams said he feared Trump’s wall strategy — which taps $3.6 billion earmarked for military construction projects — could steal federal funds away from Fort Hood in his central Texas district.

His response triggered a wave of headlines highlighting Williams’s opposition to Trump; Democrats pointed to Williams as evidence that even his usual supporters believed the president had gone too far. But just hours after his appearance in Bee Cave, Texas, the congressman posted a series of tweets making absolutely clear that he was in Trump’s corner and would not be joining the Democrats in their resolution of disapproval.

Trump took executive action, Williams argued, because Congress failed to adequately secure the border. And he said acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE had assuaged some of his concerns by pledging that military housing money would not be touched by the Trump administration.   

“I fully support @POTUS’ efforts to secure the border — including using an emergency declaration — following the clear intentions of the Democrats to simply kick the can down the road and play politics with the safety of Americans,” Williams tweeted.

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Earlier this month, five House Republicans with military bases in their backyards — Rep. Richard HudsonRichard Lane HudsonHouse GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Lawmakers warn Pentagon against reduction of US forces in Africa MORE (N.C.), Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHouse GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House conservatives voice concerns over minority rights during remote hearings House Rules Committee approves remote voting during pandemic MORE (Okla.), Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerUtah governor signs bill protecting businesses from coronavirus lawsuits House GOP bill would block lawsuits by workers sickened with virus  The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE (Ohio), Doug LambornDouglas (Doug) LambornHouse GOP urge Trump against supporting additional funding for state and local governments House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Overnight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans MORE (Colo.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsWe can't afford to let local news die House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading MORE (N.Y.) — sent a joint letter pleading with Trump not to use previously allocated military-construction funds to build his wall. But none have pledged to sign onto the Democratic resolution.   

Former Armed Services Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryBoosting military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Texas) has also been apprehensive about Trump's plan to “reprogram” military funding to build his long sought border wall. Such a shift, he warned, “would have detrimental consequences for our troops.”

Yet Thornberry, too, is placing much of the blame on the Democrats, accusing them of “stonewalling” on wall funding for political ends — a signal that he’s hardly prepared to endorse a formal rebuke of the president.

Even Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve MORE (R-Texas), a border-district immigration reformer who’s warning that Trump’s declaration “sets a terrible precedent,” is dodging questions about whether he’ll support the disapproval resolution.

“I'm always open to making sure that Congress takes back some of this power as a coequal branch of government,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “And I'm sure there's going to be a lot of conversations.”

Across the Capitol, the dynamics are different. Senators represent entire states, not smaller districts gerrymandered into partisan enclaves. And there’s plenty of pressure on some GOP senators to support the disapproval resolution when it’s sent over by the House.

The Hill identified 10 GOP senators who could break with Trump on the issue, including Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans push for help for renewable energy, fossil fuel industries The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (Alaska), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisHillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Lawmakers ask for briefings on Chinese targeting of coronavirus research Republicans push for help for renewable energy, fossil fuel industries MORE (N.C.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPass the Primary Care Enhancement Act The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to tamp down controversy over remarks about black support OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Pelosi, Democrats press case for mail-in voting amid Trump attacks MORE (Utah).

But it’s far from clear the measure stopping Trump’s emergency declaration will clear the Senate.

So far, the only Republican in Congress vowing to join Democrats is centrist Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Republicans push for help for renewable energy, fossil fuel industries Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE of Maine. She is expected to face a tough reelection in 2020 and has said she both supports a lawsuit challenging the president’s action and will vote for the Democratic-led resolution.

The disapproval resolution is deemed “privileged” under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which both guarantees a vote in the Senate and precludes opponents from blocking it with a filibuster. That means Senate Democrats, who are expected to stand together, will need to win support from at least three additional Republicans to send the resolution to Trump, who has vowed a swift veto. Neither chamber is expected to reach the two-thirds majority threshold to override a veto.

Following Pelosi’s lead, Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that his caucus will soon roll out an identical companion resolution to the House legislation to stop Trump.  

“This issue transcends partisan politics, and I urge all senators — Democrats and Republicans — to support this resolution to terminate the president’s emergency declaration when it comes up for a vote in the Senate,” Schumer said Thursday.

Announced last Friday, Trump’s emergency declaration came after a months-long budget standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for new wall construction — a non-starter for Democrats. The impasse led to a five-week government closure, the longest in the country’s history, and GOP leaders — hoping to avoid another damaging shutdown — pressured Trump last week to sign a spending package without the wall funding.

The emergency order was Trump’s way to work around Congress, empowering the president to build the wall using funds from other programs. Aside from the $3.6 billion in military construction projects, he also intends to use $601 million from the Treasury Department’s Asset Forfeiture program and $2.5 billion from an anti-drug program under the Pentagon.

Some of the Republican critics joined Democrats in deriding the unilateral move as simply unconstitutional, as Congress has sole power to direct where taxpayer dollars are spent.

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashThe Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Amash decides against Libertarian campaign for president The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - In reversal, Trump says he won't disband coronavirus task force MORE (R-Mich.) has been especially vocal in condemning Trump’s action. Not only is there no emergency, Amash argues, but Trump is overstating the powers lent him by the National Emergencies Act.

“A prerequisite for declaring an emergency is that the situation requires immediate action and Congress does not have an opportunity to act,” he tweeted. “@POTUS @realDonaldTrump is attempting to circumvent our constitutional system.”

Amash frequently breaks with his party on thorny questions related to constitutional powers. He has not said how he’ll vote on Castro’s disapproval resolution. 

This story was updated at 9:37 a.m.