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Louisiana lawmakers vote on funding bill, support President Trump

Posted: 10:31 PM, Feb 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-14 23:31:28-05

Louisiana lawmakers are voicing their opinion on the funding bill now headed to the president’s desk to be signed after a vote on Thursday.

Both the US Senate and House of Representatives voted to approve the bill to avert a partial government shutdown. Despite the votes to move forward, senators and congressmen say the bill did not meet their expectations.

In the Senate, Cassidy and Kennedy voted yes on the bill to prevent another government shutdown and fund border security.

The vote in the Senate was 83-16 in favor of moving the bill to the House.

The following statement is from Senator Bill Cassidy on his yes vote:

Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t give a dollar, but this bill includes billions for border security. Liberal activist judges will no doubt try to stop the president’s national emergency declaration, but there’s no disputing the humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border. I am proud to fight with President Trump to secure the border and stop illegal immigration, deadly drugs, and human trafficking. We pushed for a strong border security bill, and while I wish this legislation was stronger, I voted for it because billions of dollars for border security, including new physical barriers, is a step in the right direction.

Congressmen from Louisiana, however, all voted no on the spending bill that passed through the House on Thursday.

Clay Higgins, Ralph Abraham, and Mike Johnson all say the spending bill falls short of what was promised. They also say the time given to review that bill was insufficient to make voting ‘yes’ possible.

All three support the President’s intent to declare a national emergency at the US Mexico border.

The bill according to the associated press passed with a vote of 300 – 128. That bill will now go in front of the president who is expected to sign it Friday morning.

President Trump is also expected to call for a state of emergency on the border which will open funding for a border wall. Those funds would come from the federal government.

Democrats in Congress have said they will fight this action if the president chooses to declare that emergency.

Congressman Clay Higgins:

Most Americans want to see government operations run without interruption. I shared my colleagues’ mission to reach a reasonable compromise between the parties that restores stability to Federal operations and establishes our national security at the besieged southern border. However, we were given less than 20 hours to comb through a 1,169-page bill with an additional 800-plus pages of definitions and supporting documentation. There are changes to the language beyond just the border security component. We don’t know what poison pills may exist in this bill. I cannot, in good faith, vote for a bill that I haven’t had time to carefully and prayerfully research.

Further, the conference agreement fails to provide border agents and law enforcement with the resources that they need to secure our border. Democrats have inserted language that restricts ICE’s ability to enforce our immigration laws, prevents DHS from hiring additional border agents, and creates loopholes that incentivize illegal immigration. This is completely contrary to requests from our border agents and law enforcement professionals.

However, I fully understand President Trump’s decision to sign this legislation and avert a shutdown. President Trump has both the executive authority and a constitutional obligation as Commander-in-Chief to secure our homeland. I fully support his decision to declare a national emergency. We must have secure borders, and President Trump is doing what’s necessary to restore our sovereignty.

Congressman Ralph Abraham:

This bill limits the number of illegal immigrants we can detain and falls well short of adequate funding for a border wall. I couldn’t vote for something that’s going to dictate to the President whether or not he can protect our borders and keep our country safe.

If President Trump needs to declare a national emergency to keep out the drugs and gangs, so be it because it’s pretty clear that Democrats’ only goal is to score political points with their radical open-borders base, even if it means sacrificing national security.

Congressman Mike Johnson:

We have many concerns about this legislation, beginning with the process. The conference committee members were given just one hour to approve nearly 1,200 pages of text, the final bill was filed after 1 a.m., and members had to vote on it around 9 p.m. the same day. This legislation encompasses about a quarter of federal discretionary spending and will directly affect all Americans. Yet, I dare say not a single lawmaker voting for it tonight even read the bill. We know how that turned out with Obamacare, and now we are basing the security of our nation on the same failed, ‘pass it to see what is in it,’ system. This is simply unacceptable.

Additionally, key provisions of the bill fail to provide the necessary resources to secure our border and protect the American people. Border funding is well below the president’s requests, an amnesty provision is included, and the number of illegal immigrants ICE can detain is being reduced, which will undoubtedly lead to more ‘catch and release’ policies. We made a promise to the American people that we would secure our border, and this bill falls far short of that goal.

More on the votes from both Senate and Congress can be read below.

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown, but a new confrontation was ignited – this time over President Donald Trump’s plan to bypass lawmakers and declare a national emergency to siphon billions from other federal coffers for his wall on the Mexican boundary.

Money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles he wanted. The White House said he’d sign the legislation but act unilaterally to get more, prompting condemnations from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority.

The uproar over Trump’s next move cast an uncertain shadow over what had been a rare display of bipartisanship to address the grinding battle between the White House and lawmakers over border security.

The Senate passed the legislation 83-16, with both parties solidly aboard. The House followed with a 300-128 tally, with Trump’s signature planned Friday. Trump will speak Friday morning in the Rose Garden about border security, the White House said.

House Democrats overwhelmingly backed the legislation, with only 19 – most of whom were Hispanic – opposed. Just over half of Republicans voted “no.”

Should Trump change his mind, both chambers’ margins were above the two-thirds majorities needed to override presidential vetoes. Lawmakers, however, sometimes rally behind presidents of the same party in such battles.

Lawmakers exuded relief that the agreement had averted a fresh closure of federal agencies just three weeks after a record-setting 35-day partial shutdown that drew an unambiguous thumbs-down from the public. But in announcing that Trump would sign the accord, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said he’d take “other executive action, including a national emergency,”

In an unusual joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said such a declaration would be “a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract” from Trump’s failure to force Mexico to pay for the wall, as he’s promised for years.

“Congress will defend our constitutional authorities,” they said. They declined to say whether that meant lawsuits or votes on resolutions to prevent Trump from unilaterally shifting money to wall-building, with aides saying they’d wait to see what he does.

Democratic state attorneys general said they’d consider legal action to block Trump. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the president on Twitter “we’ll see you in court” if he makes the declaration.

Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump is under pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid looking like he’s lost his wall battle.

The abrupt announcement of Trump’s plans came late in an afternoon of rumblings that the volatile president – who’d strongly hinted he’d sign the agreement but wasn’t definitive – was shifting toward rejecting it. That would have infused fresh chaos into a fight both parties are desperate to leave behind, a thought that drove some lawmakers to ask heavenly help.

“Let’s all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn’t shut down,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday’s Senate session opened.

Moments before Sanders spoke at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to announce Trump’s decisions to sign the bill and declare an emergency.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters there were two hours of phone calls between McConnell and the White House before there were assurances that Trump would sign.

McConnell argued that the bill delivered victories for Trump over Pelosi. These included overcoming her pledge to not fund the wall at all and rejecting a Democratic proposal for numerical limits on detaining some immigrants, said a Republican speaking on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

In a surprising development, McConnell said he would support Trump’s emergency declaration, a turnabout for the Kentucky Republican, who like many lawmakers had opposed such action.

Democrats say there is no border crisis and Trump would be using a declaration simply to sidestep Congress. Some Republicans warn that future Democratic presidents could use his precedent to force spending on their own priorities, like gun control. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said emergency declarations are for “major natural disasters or catastrophic events” and said its use would be of “dubious constitutionality.”

White House staff and congressional Republicans have said that besides an emergency, Trump might assert other authorities that could conceivably put him within reach of billions of dollars. The money could come from funds targeted for military construction, disaster relief and counterdrug efforts.

Congressional aides say there is $21 billion for military construction that Trump could used if he declares a national emergency. By law, the money must be used to support U.S. armed forces, they say.The Defense Department declined to provide details on available money.

With many of the Democrats’ liberal base voters adamantly against Trump’s aggressive attempts to curb immigration, four declared presidential hopefuls opposed the bill in the Senate: Cory Booker of New Jersey, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota voted for it, as did Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who is expected to join the field soon.

Notably, the word “wall,” the heart of many a chant at Trump campaign events and his rallies as president, is absent from the compromise’s 1,768-page legislative and descriptive language. “Barriers” and “fencing” are the nouns of choice, a victory for Democrats eager to deny Trump even a rhetorical victory.

The agreement, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, would also squeeze funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer immigrants. To the dismay of Democrats, however, it would still leave an agency many of them consider abusive holding thousands more immigrants than last year.

The measure contains money for improved surveillance equipment, more customs agents and humanitarian aid for detained immigrants. The overall bill also provides $330 billion to finance dozens of federal programs for the rest of the year, one-fourth of federal agency budgets.

Trump sparked the last shutdown before Christmas after Democrats snubbed his $5.7 billion demand for the wall. The closure denied paychecks to 800,000 federal workers, hurt contractors and people reliant on government services and was loathed by the public.

With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Trump folded on Jan. 25 without getting any of the wall funds. His capitulation was a political fiasco for Republicans and handed Pelosi a victory less than a month after Democrats took over the House and confronted Trump with a formidable rival for power.

Trump’s descriptions of the wall have fluctuated, at times saying it would cover 1,000 miles of the 2,000-mile boundary. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers.