Talks collapse: Senate Republicans remain divided over Trump emergency declaration


Senate Republicans say talks to find a way to stop a House-passed resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency border declaration are collapsing amid Republican divisions over what some see as a breach of separation of powers.

Senate Republicans said Wednesday afternoon that Trump will not support a proposal sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to reform the National Emergencies Act of 1976 and require Congress to approve future emergency declarations after 30 days.

“It’s my understanding the president won’t support it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) leadership team, after meeting with colleagues at lunch to discuss the state of the talks.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters after a conference lunch meeting Wednesday that it’s clear the disapproval resolution will pass.

“Dandy Don Meredith used to sing a song at the end of the game when the result was obvious. It was called turn out the lights the party’s over. Well, that’s appropriate right now,” he said.

“It’s time to vote, everybody knows how they’re going to vote. I don’t think the president’s going to win this one.”

There was a flash of hope Tuesday that a deal could be worked out with the White House whereby Trump would promise to support legislation curbing his power to declare future national emergencies in exchange for Republicans defeating the disapproval resolution.

But Trump decided against curbing his own presidential power, GOP senators said.

The disapproval resolution faces a certain Trump veto and there’s not enough support in either the House or the Senate to override it.

“This president like any other president is not going to give up power that Congress has given him in the past. It’s been there since the 1970s. Why would this president give it up?” said a Republican senator who requested anonymity to talk about internal discussions.

The GOP senator said increasingly strained efforts by Republican colleagues to work out a deal to avoid passage of the disapproval resolution has “gotten to the point of being absurd.”

“I look at my colleagues and say why would you expect a president to give up his power. Would President Obama have given it up? I don’t think so,” the lawmaker added.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are still pushing a proposal to pass an alternative resolution that would wall off the money available for Trump to redirect to building border barriers, said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who discussed the idea earlier on Wednesday with colleagues.

Alexander and Cruz want to limit Trump’s ability to redirect funding to a drug interdiction fund under the Department of Defense and an asset forfeiture fund under the Treasury Department, Rubio said.

But that proposal has been on the table for “a while,” according to another senator, and has failed to generate much momentum.

Cruz declined to comment on Wednesday.

“At this point I think it’s best to keep the conversations within the conference and directly with the administration,” he said.
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