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

Few House Republicans appear ready to defy President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE by backing a resolution that would stop his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border.

As Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump 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 WilliamsThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems aim to end anti-Semitism controversy with vote today CPAC attendees say Biden poses greatest threat to Trump 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 ShanahanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 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 HudsonThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Two killed in shooting at University of North Carolina Charlotte Don’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall MORE (N.C.), Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Rubio asks White House to delay B Pentagon contract over Amazon concerns   Lawmakers concede they might have to pass a dreaded 'CR' MORE (Okla.), Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerMerriam-Webster appears to jab Brit Hume for citing its first definition of racism to defend Trump House GOP presses members to oppose resolution condemning Trump remarks as racist House Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting MORE (Ohio), Doug LambornDouglas (Doug) LambornOvernight 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 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill The GOP is making Ocasio-Cortez more popular MORE (Colo.) and Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsMichael Caputo eyes congressional bid House ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling 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 ThornberryHouse and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill House approves defense bill after adding liberal sweeteners Overnight Defense: Dems confident defense bill will pass despite party infighting | GOP chairman's bill would review US, Saudi ties | Senators briefed on sexual assault allegation against top general 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 HurdHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: 'Petrified' Democrats afraid to take on progressive congresswomen The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets 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 MurkowskiGOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks Schumer blisters Republicans over response to Trump tweets: 'Where are you?' MORE (Alaska), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Top North Carolina newspapers editorial board to GOP: 'Are you OK with a racist president?' Republicans make U-turn on health care MORE (N.C.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerBottom Line Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 jitters hit both parties in the Senate MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Liberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Romney won't say if Trump's attacks against minority lawmakers are racist 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 CollinsGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks 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 SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence 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 AmashSC Republican Mark Sanford considering primary challenge to Trump Democrats erupt over Trump attacks Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller 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.