Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior Republicans warn Donald Trump against the declaration of a national emergency to fund Trump’s Wall with Mexico.
Other Republicans put out the pointed message that McConnell private told Trump last week about the consequences of a declaration, threatened by Trump when his ultimatum for $5.7 billion for the $25 billion Wall — pursued with a record-setting 35-day shutdown of the Federal Government — failed to get a penny from Congress.
McConnell said legislators might pass a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration, forcing Trump to consider issuing his first veto, in the face of opposition from his own party.
The two Republican sources said McConnell delivered his warning during a face-to-face meeting with Trump last Tuesday, with no aides present. The encounter was not announced, and no statement was issued afterwards — meaning that the GOP officials describing the session must have been briefed by the Majority Leader.
On the same day that he met with Trump, McConnell expressed opposition to any Trump declaration as he encouraged a 17-member congressional committee to reach a settlement on border security: “I’m for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the President feeling he should declare a national emergency.”
McConnell’s top deputy, Sen. John Thune, encouraged GOP senators at a private lunch to raise concerns with the White House, according to “one of the Republicans and another person with knowledge of Thune’s comments”.
Sen. John Cornyn, another senior Republican and a McConnell confidant, said, “We’ve certainly tried to communicate that to [Trump]. And so, he understands our concerns as we’ve expressed them. But I don’t know if he shares those same concerns.”
Trump Maintains Threat
The White House has considered using a national emergency to bypass Congress for the Wall funds, taking the money from the Defense Department — including from $14 billion allocated by legislators for disaster relief.
Trump, who has not mentioned any meeting with McConnell, has publicly refused to back away from his ultimatum, threatening another shutdown on February 15 if he does not get the $5.7 billion.
He said in interviews this week that the conference discussions between Republican and Democrat legislators are a “waste of time”: “Based on what I hear and based on what I read, they don’t want to give money for The Wall.”
On Friday, Trump said of a national emergency declaration, “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that.” He told reporters to watch his State of the Union address on Tuesday, “I think you’ll find it very exciting.”