“The president said, ‘If we go another 30 days, keep everything funded, even the things we disagree on … at the end of that 30 days, will you be willing to negotiate on these areas where we disagree, like the wall? And Nancy Pelosi said no, emphatically,” the Louisianan said on ABC’s This Week.
NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Republican Senator Ted Cruz on Meet the Press about reopening the government and continuing the debate, as Graham discussed. The Texan didn’t directly answer, instead pivoting to blame the other party: “There is a difference between one side, the Democrats, who are saying, ‘We will not move. We will not compromise. We will not negotiate,’ and the other side, the president, who is saying, ‘I’m happy to negotiate.’ And what he’s proposing, the Democrats have already voted for. They’re playing politics, because they hate Trump.”
Democrats, on the other hand, embraced Graham’s change of heart. Senator Tim Kaine, the Virginian who was Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate in 2016, said on NBC that “we should first reopen the government.”
Senator Chris Coons, a centrist from Delaware, followed Graham on Fox and explicitly endorsed his approach.
“I agree with the advice that Lindsey Graham just gave to President Trump, which is that he should reopen the government and we should spend several weeks negotiating over what we can all agree on,” Coons said, adding an implicit rejection of Pelosi’s rhetoric. “I personally don’t think that a border wall is, in and of itself, immoral.”
What most clearly united Republicans and Democrats was wariness about Trump using emergency powers to build his wall, though some GOP lawmakers defended his prerogative.
“I would hate to see it,” Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said on CNN’s State of the Union about declaring a national emergency. “Using that act, it would be a far larger act than has ever occurred in the past. So I would prefer not, primarily because if we do that, it’s going to go to court, and the wall won’t get built.”
“We don’t want it to come down to a national-emergency declaration,” Scalise said. “Clearly the president’s got authority under law, but he’s said he doesn’t want it to come to that. He wants Congress to solve this problem. Congress needs to solve this problem.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also defended the president’s power, even though an emergency declaration could divert disaster-relief funding from his home state of California, which has suffered deadly and devastating wildfires in recent years. He said the law granting such a diversion “exists for these types of circumstances,” referring to the border crisis. However, he said repeatedly on CBS, “We should solve this legislatively.”
Democratic opposition was more predictable and less deferential.
“If this president is going to turn to national emergencies every time he disagrees with Congress, I’m against it,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said on ABC. “Let’s make sure the branches of government are bound by the same Constitution.”