‘This is a stupid way to do business,’ Josh Hawley attacks Blunt-backed border bill

The border wall region, from the air

In November, a video team from Brookings Productions visited the U.S.-Mexico border region and captured these aerial images of where President Trump has proposed to build his border wall.
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In November, a video team from Brookings Productions visited the U.S.-Mexico border region and captured these aerial images of where President Trump has proposed to build his border wall.

Sen. Josh Hawley was one of 16 senators Thursday to reject a bipartisan border security bill that’s intended to keep the federal government open through September after the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

In a striking rebuke of lawmakers who crafted the compromise, including fellow Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, the freshman excoriated the legislation on Twitter.

“I just voted NO on the border spending bill. Doesn’t secure the border, weakens ICE. It’s 1100+ pages and was filed in the dead of night. Only in Washington is this considered normal. This is a stupid way to do business and it’s time to change it,” Hawley tweeted minutes after the bill passed the U.S. Senate 83-16.

Hawley was one of 11 Republicans to oppose the legislation. Five Democrats also voted no, including four presidential candidates.

Blunt was part of a bipartisan panel that developed the bill, which provides $1.375 billion in funding for new barriers at the southern border, in an effort to avert another government shutdown. President Donald Trump wanted $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.

Blunt’s office said it had “nothing to add” when asked about Hawley’s comment.

Both of Kansas’ GOP senators, Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, voted in favor. However, Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, a likely candidate to replace the retiring Roberts’ in the Senate, attacked the measure shortly after its Senate passage.

“This ‘compromise’ is totally unacceptable,” Marshall said in a news release. “I’m not sure how the negotiating process went from bad to worse. The President was very clear about needing 5.7 billion to build 230 miles of the wall across the southern border. I cannot support a deal that only funds 55 miles of the wall.”

Trump is expected to sign the legislation after it passes the U.S. House, but he also intends to declare a national emergency to steer additional dollars toward the construction of a border wall.

Blunt had sought to avoid an emergency declaration by providing the president with alternatives, such as tapping funds from an anti-drug trafficking program to construct barriers at the border.

However, the Missouri senator struck a cautious tone when asked if he was disappointed by the president’s plan to move forward with an emergency declaration.

“Let’s see exactly what he does and exactly how he does it,” Blunt said. “He’s aware of things he can do short of an emergency, but an emergency could allow a lot more money.”

Blunt said he wanted to see the White House’s definition of an emergency in its declaration, suggesting it could be limited in scope.

Roberts also said he would withhold until he saw the language in Trump’s expected declaration.

“Wait until I can read the language… I mean, I had my druthers I’d just as soon he wouldn’t have done that, but I think maybe he was saying that, hopefully, prematurely. But I don’t know that,” Roberts said. “I’m not in charge of the standard for the president.”

Hawley also said he needed to see the language before he took a stance on the declaration.

Moran’s office noted that the Kansas senator has previously “expressed concerns regarding a president declaring a national emergency, and we’ll see how this issue develops.”

Democrats, on the other hand, have universally panned the idea of declaring a national emergency.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. “Does anybody need a quote? It’s just a terrible idea.”

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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