GOP lawmakers meet with Pence to try to limit presidential powers, kill disapproval resolution for Trump’s emergency

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill following a policy lunch on March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. Republican and Democratic senators answered a range of questions following their weekly policy luncheon. Also pictured (L-R) are U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in January to obtain the funding needed to begin construction of a southern U.S. border wall, two things happened:

First, conservative hardliners warned that a future Democrat president could abuse the precedent he’d set to pursue their far-left policies. And second, Democrats rushed to pass a resolution in the House that overturns the president’s national emergency.

Both of these events present big problems for the president — one that Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly been working with Senate Republicans to resolve via a special deal.

The deal reportedly calls for the president signing legislation drafted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee that would limit a national emergency called by any sitting president to just 30 days. For the emergency to continue beyond 30 days, the president would need to obtain congressional authorization.

“If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame,” Lee said in a statement Tuesday. “Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back.”

“If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so. The ARTICLE ONE Act will go a long way to restoring the balance of powers in our republic.”

If the president were to agree to sign this legislation, the conservative hardliners in the GOP-led Senate might agree to vote against the Democrats’ resolution. This in turn would prevent the president from having to issue his first veto — a move that some suspect would be humiliating.

“As a Thursday showdown vote in the Senate neared, GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others were talking with the White House about related legislation that would curb the ability of presidents to declare national emergencies,” Fox News reported.

“If Trump would commit to signing a bill handcuffing future emergency declarations, more GOP senators might support his border emergency declaration in Thursday’s crucial vote.”

At least ten GOP senators, including Rand Paul, have threatened to vote Thursday in favor of the Democrats’ resolution to terminate the president’s national emergency.

Enter Pence, who’s been meeting with the likes of Lee and Tillis to make the deal happen: “Lee and Tillis were among five GOP senators who met privately Tuesday at the Capitol with Vice President Mike Pence as Republicans sought a way to bolster support for Trump in Thursday’s crucial vote.”

As of Wednesday morning, no deal had yet been reached.  Moreover, it remained unclear whether the president would even accept any deal. According to a White House official who spoke with The Hill, Pence would be “happy to bring their concerns to the president but made zero commitments.”

Those Republican senators who support the deal are hopeful nonetheless.

“Well, the president had problems as a candidate with the Obama overreach, so he’s been on record for some time on this topic. I think this will give him a chance to get back to where he was three years ago,” Sen. Roy Blunt noted to The Hill.

True.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also appeared to signal support for Lee’s legislation.

“We’re looking at some ways to revisit the law,” he said of the National Emergencies Act, adding that he “may well” back Lee’s legislation. “There’s a lot of discomfort with the law. … Was it too broad back in the ’70s when it was passed? So yeah, we’re discussing altering that.”

“It is no secret that the use of the national emergency law has generated a good deal of discussion. It’ll all come to a head on Thursday.”

It’s presumed that both a vote on the Democrats’ resolution and a vote on Lee’s legislation will occur Thursday.

While Senate Republicans appear to believe their deal is a fair compromise, some on social media have cried foul, questioning how Lee’s legislation would have affected the national emergency declared after the Sept. 11 attacks, and asking why efforts to limit the president’s power were never made during former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

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