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Tillis defies Trump on emergency declaration

Sen. Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thom Tillis plans to vote against President Trump’s emergency border wall declaration.

The North Carolina Republican penned an op-ed in The Washington Post Monday laying out the reasons he plans to vote for a resolution that would terminate Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the southern U.S. border.

“As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress,” Tillis wrote. “As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms.”

He warned that Republicans should be wary of the precedent it would set by allowing a president to circumvent Congress’ power of the purse.

Conservatives, Tillis said, “should be thinking about whether they would accept the prospect of a President Bernie Sanders declaring a national emergency to implement parts of the radical Green New Deal; a President Elizabeth Warren declaring a national emergency to shut down banks and take over the nation’s financial institutions; or a President Cory Booker declaring a national emergency to restrict Second Amendment rights.”

Tillis’ declaration nudges the Senate closer to approving the resolution rebuffing Trump, which would need the support of at least four Republicans in the chamber. Several others, including Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have signaled they would oppose the president.

The op-ed comes as House Democratic leadership plans to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would end Trump’s emergency declaration.

Only one House Republican, Rep. Justin Amash from Michigan, signed on as an initial co-sponsor, but other Republicans may vote for the measure on the floor. But even if support is scant among House Republicans, the resolution is expected to easily pass the Democratic-controlled chamber.

It would then be sent to the GOP-led Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be required under the National Emergencies Act to hold a vote on the House resolution within 18 days of its passage.

Trump has said he’d veto the resolution if it makes it to his desk. Overriding that veto would require the votes of two-thirds of both chambers — a steep climb, particularly in the Senate.

Although his op-ed delivered a rebuke to Trump, Tillis attempted to soften the blow.

He led by praising the president: “President Trump has few bigger allies than me when it comes to supporting his vision of 21st-century border security … It is a vision that will take many years and tens of billions of dollars to fully realize, and the president can count on me to help.”

Tillis added, “[I]f I were the leader of the Constitution’s Article II branch, I would probably declare an emergency and use all the tools at my disposal as well.”

But despite Trump’s “legitimate grievances over congressional Democrats’ obstruction of border-security funding,” Tillis said, “his national emergency declaration on Feb. 15 was not the right answer.”

Trump wrote on Twitter Monday morning, “I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country — and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!”

Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Newsroom network, of which NC Policy Watch is a member.

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