Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)
By midweek, though, it was clear Tillis was looking for a way out. He tried to help forge a compromise in which a president’s national emergency powers would be curtailed so he and others could vote with Trump.
What he did Thursday: Even though no compromise was reached, Tillis pulled a complete reversal and voted with Trump.
“A lot has changed over the last three weeks,” Tillis maintained. “A discussion with the vice president, a number of senior administration officials, a lot of collaboration with my colleague from Utah [Sen. Mike Lee] that’s a serious discussion about changing the National Emergencies Act in a way that will have Congress speak on emergency actions in the future . . . As late as today the president makes a statement that he’s willing to work with us.”
He maintained after the vote that this was not because he was worried about a primary challenge.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)
What he did Thursday: Without much fanfare, Sasse signed off on the national emergency — and said it was because Democrats declined to rein in a president’s emergency powers.
“We have an obvious crisis at the border — everyone who takes an honest look at the spiking drug and human trafficking numbers knows this — and the president has a legal path to a rapid response under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 (NEA),” Sasse said in a statement. “I think that law is overly broad and I want to fix it, but at present Nancy Pelosi doesn’t, so I am therefore voting against her politically motivated resolution.”
So to protest Pelosi’s lack of action on curtailing a president’s broad national emergency powers, he’s . . . voting to support a president’s broad national emergency powers?
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
What he said before: “I would prefer we get it done through the legislative process rather than a presidential emergency, because I just think that’s not the path we want to go down, and the president or every president can decide if they want to use that or not. Presidents have used it in the past on things where there was complete bipartisan agreement.”
What he did Thursday: Voted to go down that path.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
What he said before: McConnell both said publicly he opposed a national emergency and privately cautioned Trump against it. “I’m for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the president feeling he should declare a national emergency,” McConnell said.
What he did Thursday: It has been known for a while that McConnell backed down, supporting Trump’s national emergency as a means to avert another shutdown showdown. And he voted accordingly Thursday.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.)
What he did Thursday: All of that has now come to pass — with Cornyn’s vote to support Trump.