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

Few House Republicans appear ready to defy President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE by backing a resolution that would stop his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border.

As Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests 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 WilliamsSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Live coverage: Zuckerberg testifies before House on Facebook's Libra project Population shifts set up huge House battleground 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 ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary 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 HudsonNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats School football game canceled after cheerleaders held pro-Trump banner MORE (N.C.), Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeTrump's border wall hangs over spending talks House, Senate reach deal on fiscal 2020 spending figures New hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs MORE (Okla.), Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerMeadows says Republican colleagues 'wrong' for suggesting Trump's phone call was inappropriate Republicans preview impeachment defense strategy Maloney says Hill endured 'epic mansplaining' from GOP lawmaker MORE (Ohio), Doug LambornDouglas (Doug) LambornOvernight Energy: Democrats grill BLM chief over plans to move headquarters | EPA moves to end its use of animal testing | Top NOAA official defends Trump over Alabama forecast Democrats grill BLM chief over plans to move officials out of DC Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need exit strategy with Iran | McConnell open to vote on Iran war authorization | Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales MORE (Colo.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsHouse passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Duncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea On The Money: Economy adds 136K jobs in September | Jobless rate at 50-year low | Treasury IG to probe handling of Trump tax returns request | House presses Zuckerberg to testify on digital currency 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 ThornberryDemocrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward Meadows says Republican colleagues 'wrong' for suggesting Trump's phone call was inappropriate Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week 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 HurdCNN's Bianna Golodryga: 'Rumblings' from Democrats on censuring Trump instead of impeachment Republicans preview impeachment defense strategy Davis: Congressman Will Hurd, If not now, when? 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 MurkowskiHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days The Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records MORE (Alaska), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage North Carolina congressman says he won't seek reelection after redistricting Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 MORE (N.C.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Statesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race 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 CollinsHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days 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 SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP 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 AmashDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Amash says he will vote in favor of articles of impeachment 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.