A trio of Republican senators who occupy prominent positions on Capitol Hill expressed concern Sunday afternoon about President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and barring citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries — commenting on Trump’s move two days after the fact and in the wake of an explosive public outcry.
In separate written statements, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (Colo.), Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (Tenn.), and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said the order is too far-reaching and decried its effect on some legal U.S. residents.
“While I am supportive of strengthening our screening processes and securing our borders, a blanket travel ban goes too far,” Gardner said. “I also believe that lawful residents of the United States should be permitted to enter the country. I urge the Administration to take the appropriate steps to fix this overly broad executive order.”
Corker called the order “poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders.” He said the Trump administration ought to “immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated.”
Alexander said the “vetting proposal itself needed more vetting.”
He added: “More scrutiny of those traveling from war-torn countries to the United States is wise. But this broad and confusing order seems to ban legal, permanent residents with ‘green cards,’ and might turn away Iraqis, for example, who were translators and helped save lives of Americans troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq. And while not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character.”
Other senators in both parties criticized the order Sunday afternoon. At least one, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), defended it.
But the show of public disapproval from the leading Republicans came about 48 hours after Trump signed the order. It also came after travelers were detained at airports and angry protests erupted nationwide throughout the weekend.
With their statements, Gardner, Alexander and Corker offered more direct criticism than a pair of top Senate Republicans: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.).
In an interview broadcast Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” McConnell said he is “opposed to a religious test.” But he added: “The courts are going to determine whether this is too broad.”
Barrasso issued a written statement largely echoing McConnell that said, “A religious test or ban is against everything our country stands for. We need to remember that some of our best sources of information that keeps our nation and our troops safe comes from our Muslim friends and allies.”
On Saturday, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) were not among the Republicans who publicly questioned Trump’s order.
Even as more Republican lawmakers started to opine on Trump’s order Sunday, many have remained silent on the matter, raising questions about what the predominant public attitude in the GOP will be when Congress returns to town Monday.