President Donald TrumpвЂ™s decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border to divert defense spending to build his border wall has split the conservative base.
Among the critics are one-time die-hard Trump supporters who think heвЂ™s accepting a raw deal on border security. The congressional spending deal puts $1.3 billion toward TrumpвЂ™s border wall, limits the kinds of structures that could be built, and aims to reduce the number of detention beds available to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
They see TrumpвЂ™s national emergency declaration as a political cover-up for a failure to negotiate with a divided Congress. Take Fox News personalities Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, who urged Trump to not sign the spending bill:
Others unhappy with TrumpвЂ™s decision, however, include a contingent of conservatives вЂ” some who have long spoken against him вЂ” who think the Republican president is doing exactly what they railed against as an unprecedented abuse of executive power under President Barack Obama.
Rick Wilson, a conservative political strategist, captured this dynamic, warning his colleagues of the precedent TrumpвЂ™s declaration could set.
Behind the scenes, Republican lawmakers have shared these concerns. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who now supports TrumpвЂ™s emergency declaration on the border, two weeks ago said Congress would work to avoid a national emergency declaration, reportedly privately advising Trump against it.
But these same lawmakers have largely pushed aside this nervousness to support their president. Most of TrumpвЂ™s defenders on Capitol Hill, like conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, have spent the last week saying вЂњexecutive actionвЂќ is the only way forward for Trump to get what he wants on immigration.
вЂњConservatives wonвЂ™t be happy unless he takes other executive action,вЂќ Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said of the compromise border security spending deal.
To best understand how much of a reversal this is for people like Meadows, read this 2014 statement from MeadowsвЂ™s office after Obama announced an expansion for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program:
But thatвЂ™s politics.
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