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Senate Confirms Trump Attorney General Pick

President Trump has a new attorney general.

 

By a vote of 54 to 45, senators confirmed Bill Barr as attorney general on Thursday. Barr, a former attorney general under George H. W. Bush from 1991 to 1991, is the second attorney general to serve under President Trump.

 

His first, Jeff Sessions, resigned last year. President Trump had criticized Sessions numerous times for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation into possible illegal activities undertaken by the Trump campaign. Some Senate Democrats had voiced concern that Barr will not allow this investigation to continue.

 

Every Senate Republican supported Barr’s nomination except one, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. He expressed concerns about Barr’s support of warrantless wiretapping and opposition to criminal justice reform. Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Kristyn Sinema of Arizona broke with Senate Democrats by voting “yes” on the Barr nomination.

 

Do you support Senate confirmation of Bill Barr to be attorney general?

Trump Declares Emergency to Build Border Wall

There’s an emergency at the national border – at least that’s what President Trump thinks. He said today that he plans to use his powers under a 1976 law to declare an emergency and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

The National Emergency Act of 1976 gives the president broad authority to declare an emergency, which frees up his power to make decisions and spend money in ways that have not been approved by Congress. Previous presidents have used this power a number of times, although this is likely to be the most high-profile and controversial use.

 

President Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall on the southern border, but has not bene able to convince Congress to fund it. He said that he would sign legislation that would keep the government open and allocate money for some border security, but would pair that action with an emergency declaration that lets him build the wall. The president says that the humanitarian crisis at the border justifies such an action.

 

This has prompted a backlash from Democrats and some conservatives. They argue that there is no real emergency at the border. Instead, they say the president is misusing his powers in order to bypass Congress, not using his power to combat an unexpected crisis.

 

Under the emergency legislation, a majority in each house of Congress can pass a resolution to revoke an emergency declaration. The president would likely veto such a resolution, meaning that 2/3 of Congress would have to override it. Democrats have vowed to introduce and pass such a resolution in the House of Representatives. Besides this resolution, there will also be lawsuits against the president’s actions.

 

Do you support President Trump’s emergency declaration to bypass Congress and build a border wall?

Border Security Deal May Avert Government Shutdown

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed on principles of a border security package that would pave the way for bipartisan support for a bill that would fund the federal government. This would stop a looming government shutdown and provide the government with money to operate through the end of the fiscal year. The only question that remains is if President Trump will support it.

 

Under the proposal, the funding bill will contain $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing and over 40,000 slots in immigrant detention facilities. There is also another $1.7 billion for other border security measures. Democrats had been pressing for a cap on slots in interior immigration detention facilities, but this did not make the final cut.

 

President Trump has pushed for $5 billion in funding for a wall or other border barrier. While this deal does not contain full funding for the president’s request, it does contain funding to begin construction.

 

Currently, the federal government is staying open because Congress passed a temporary funding measure that the president signed. That funding runs out on February 15. Congress has time to work out the details and pass a long-term funding measure prior to this date. If the president vetoes it, however, that would possibly lead to another government shutdown unless Congress overrode his veto.

 

Do you support the plan to fund 55 miles in border fencing? Do you think that President Trump should veto the bill because it does not contain full funding for his border wall?

Trump Talks Immigration, Unity in State of the Union Address

President Trump delivered his second State of the Union address last night, sounding familiar themes on immigration, among other issues. He also used the occasion to tout bipartisanship, talking about ways he has worked with Democrats in the past and wishes to work with them in the future.

 

According to the president, “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans.” He reiterated his call to build a wall on the southern border, saying, “I’m asking you to defend are very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and our country.”

 

While there has been discussion of the president using emergency powers to build the border wall, during this address he did not say that he would do so. Instead, he asked Congress to support his proposal for “a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall.”

 

Currently, funding to keep the federal government open lasts until February 15. Congress must pass a new spending bill before then to avoid another government shutdown. If the president’s border wall plan is not part of this spending bill, he may veto it, triggering a shutdown.

 

Republicans at the speech reacted favorably to the call for a wall, but Democrats were unenthusiastic. However, the president did talk about bipartisan initiatives he supported, such as criminal justice reform. He also said, “Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure” and discussed efforts to lower drug prices. These are issues that Democrats may find common ground with Republicans.

 

What did you think of President Trump’s State of the Union address? Do you support President Trump’s call to build a border wall? Do you think that Democrats and Republicans should work together on infrastructure and drug prices?

Senate Votes Fail to End Government Shutdown

Senators considered dueling plans to end the partial government shutdown on Thursday. Republicans offered President Trump’s path to re-open the government while Democrats presented their proposal. Neither side received enough votes to pass the legislation, leaving negotiations between Senate leaders ongoing.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amendment that would have provided $5.7 billion for a border wall and extended protections for illegal immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Senate voted 50-47 to invoke cloture, or end debate, on this proposal. The measure needed 60 votes to move to a final vote, so it failed. Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah joined the Democrats in voting “no.”

 

After the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Republican measure, it considered a Democratic plan to re-open the government through February 8th. This proposal did not have funding for a border wall. The Senate vote of 52-44 also failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to close debate. Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah joined the Democrats in voting for this proposal.

 

Senator McConnell continues to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the minority leader, to negotiate a deal that would re-open the federal government and gain enough bipartisan support to pass the Senate.

 

Do you think that members of Congress should re-open the government temporarily while Congress and the president negotiate over a border wall? Or should the government remain shut down until the border wall is funded?

Trump Pushes for Wall During Oval Office Address

Saying there was “a growing humanitarian and security crisis,” President Donald Trump used a televised speech from the Oval Office to call for Democrats in Congress to support funding for a border wall. Democratic leaders, however, said that the president was pushing “misinformation” and “malice.”

 

President Trump and Democrats in Congress are at odds over $5 billion in funding for portions of a wall that the president wants built on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has refused to sign legislation that would fund parts of the federal government because it did not contain this funding. This has led to a partial government shutdown that is going into its third week.

 

Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi appeared on television after President Trump to dismiss his call for a wall and instead urge him to sign legislation to re-open the government. They say that the president is manufacturing a crisis for political gain.

 

According to President Trump, the lack of a wall has led to undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. and committing a range of crimes. He focused on some of these crimes during his address. He said that the U.S. will be safer with a wall to stop criminals and drug smugglers from entering the nation. Critics dispute the president’s characterization of the situation, noting that illegal immigration is down from historic highs and that undocumented immigrants do not disproportionately commit violent crimes.

 

The president has been considering using his powers to declare a national emergency in order to use military construction funding to build a wall. He did not take this step during his address, instead he urged people to contact Congress in support of a border wall. It remains unclear what steps he will take if Congress refuses to consider such funding.

 

Do you support a border wall? Should the president sign legislation to re-open parts of the federal government even if he doesn’t receive his wall funds?

Trump Mulls Declaring Emergency to Build Border Wall

President Trump wants a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. Congress does not want to appropriate money for it. So the president is considering doing an end-run around the legislative branch by declaring an emergency, enabling the military to use its funds to build the wall. If he does that, say some observers, it could prompt a constitutional crisis.

 

The issue of the border wall is one that then-candidate Trump campaigned on from the day he announced his candidacy for president. Once elected, he has pushed Congress to provide money for it. While spending bills have contained money for border security, there has been no decision to allocate money to build the wall as envisioned by the president.

 

The government is currently undergoing a partial shutdown because President Trump has refused to sign a spending bill to keep it open unless that bill has $5 billion in it to construct roughly 200 miles of a border wall. Democrats in Congress have refused to go along with this demand, and neither side seems willing to shift from its positions.

 

Since he cannot get the money from Congress, President Trump is now considering another route. Under this scenario, he would use provisions of a 1978 law to declare a national emergency. That would give him leeway to use some military funding to build the wall. Under this law, however, Congress could pass a resolution that would disapprove of his action. There are also legal scholars who dispute that the president would be able to declare an emergency over the situation at the border. They say that this action would not survive legal challenge and would be unconstitutional.

 

President Trump will discuss this issue during a televised address tonight.

 

Do you think that President Trump should declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and build a border wall?

Border Wall Divides Trump, Congress

Whether or not the government stays open could depend on the fate of President Trump’s border wall.

 

In a familiar dispute, the president has said he will not sign any bill that would keep the government open unless such legislation has money for a border wall. While Republicans largely agree with this position, the president needs Democratic votes in order to make it happen. So far, Senate Democrats are refusing to go along with funding a border wall. This had led the government to the brink of a shutdown.

 

The border wall was a key plank in Donald Trump’s platform during the 2016 campaign. At that time, he said that Mexico would pay for it. Today, however, the dispute is whether or not Congress will put money for a wall in their annual spending bills. Opposition from Democrats has prevented this from happening so far during President Trump’s term.

 

While Congress has passed appropriations bills to fund some parts of the federal government, it has not yet passed legislation to fund the entire government through the end of the fiscal year. Currently, the government is staying open due to short-term funding measures. The president has said he will refuse to sign any further short-term spending bills until he gets money for his wall.

 

Do you support President Trump’s refusal to sign legislation to keep the federal government open if Congress does not provide funding for a border wall?

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