US NEWS | GOP senators express concerns about a national emergency declaration to fund border wall


US NEWS | GOP senators express concerns about a national emergency declaration to fund border wall Those GOP lawmakers said such a move could have broad constitutional problems, practical political implications for Republicans and could set a dangerous precedent for all future presidents who might use the power to advance their policy priorities despite Congress. The words of caution come as Trumps demand for billions to build a border wall remains a key point of contention in private negotiations to avert a government shutdown in just 12 days, sources from both parties said Monday. “There are lot of reservations in the conference about that and I hope they dont go down that path,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota told CNN about the emergency declaration that Trump has repeatedly said could be his backstop position if talks dont yield funding for a wall. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called it a “dangerous step” and “not a good strategy” and that Republicans have conveyed these doubts to the White House “many times. Publicly and privately.” Cornyn also warned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would “introduce a resolution of disapproval that will pass the House and then come over here and divide Republicans.” Cornyn also warned of the precedent it would set citing several possible Democratic presidential candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “The whole idea that presidents whether its President Trump, President Warren or President Sanders can declare an emergency and somehow usurp the separation of powers and get into the business of appropriating money for specific projects without Congress being involved, is a serious constitutional question,” Cornyn said. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, said, “Theres much concern among people who wish Trump well on this about the slippery slope.” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican , said such a move would be “of dubious constitutionality.” House and Senate negotiators over the last few days have moved closer to ironing out their differences on measures in the spending legislation that are not tied to border security and barriers sought by Trump, the sources said. They expect the focus of the talks to shift toward Trumps wall demands and border security after the Presidents Tuesday State of the Union speech and once the lawmakers are briefed by experts on the situation at the border later this week. But time is running short given that lawmakers want to reach a deal by weeks end in order to give time for the House and Senate to jump through its procedural hoops and pass legislation before another punishing shutdown that would affect one quarter of the federal government. When asked by CNN if a shut down is off the table, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said “We dont know quite yet how this is going to end. But Im hopeful and optimistic.” Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican whos the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, suggested talks took a step backward at the end of last week when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, declared at a news conference, “Theres not going to be any wall money in the legislation.” “If she says theres not going to be any, I dont know where the negotiations go,” Shelby said in response to her hard line. His concerns are echoed by other Republicans close to the negotiations, who described Pelosis acceptance last week of additional vehicle fencing along the border as something thats already allowed under current law and therefore not a concession from Democrats. But Trump has also confused negotiators by not clarifying his demands and its uncertain whether his State of the Union address will help or hurt Congress ability to cut a deal in just days. “Listen closely to the State of the Union,” to build a wall, should congressional talks not result in a deal he wants. Meanwhile, McConnell said last week he hopes Trump doesnt go the emergency route. Congressional Republicans privately worry that Democrats would force a vote to overturn that emergency declaration, something that would likely pass the Democratic controlled House and may clear the GOP led Senate if just a handful of Republicans join Democrats. The issue could divide Republicans and be an ugly battle even if opponents of the wall cant get enough votes to override a presidential veto. Shelby told CNN Sunday he would invite Border Patrol officials to Capitol Hill this week to inform negotiators of their needs. “Its a question: How do we get off the politics and to the substance? If we can do that, we will get the job done,” Shelby told CNNs Jake Tapper. In addition, the four GOP House members who are on the conference committee were on the US Mexico border Sunday and Monday “to see the situation at the border first hand and hear directly from experts on the ground” as “they work to come up with a compromise to fund border security,” according to a tweet from the House Appropriations Committee Republicans. This story has been updated to include additional developments from Monday.

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