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Kansas Congressional Delegation Split On Border Wall Funding Emergency

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs file photo
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran

Kansas U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is one of several Republicans who expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency to fund construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Both Moran and fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts voted for a bipartisan appropriations bill, which prevented another partial shutdown of the federal government and passed the Senate 86-16. Democrat Sharice Davids was the only member of Kansas’ U.S. House delegation to support the measure, which passed 300-128 in the House.

Moran told the Kansas News Service last month during the government shutdown over the wall funding that he shared Trump’s concerns about border security, but that he hoped the president wouldn’t use emergency powers to circumvent Congress.

“Throughout my time in the Congress, particularly in the Senate, I have complained about administrations taking more and more of what is constitutionally the responsibility of the United States Congress,” he said. “But I also complain that Congress allows it to happen.”

The 1976 law that gives the president authority to declare a national emergency also gives Congress the power to terminate the order.

On Friday, Trump signed the appropriations bill. The president then declared an emergency on Friday because the measure included only $1.3 billion of the $5.7 billion he wanted for the wall. Unless blocked by Congress or the courts, the declaration will allow the president to redirect money appropriated for the U.S. military and for disaster response.

In a statement, Davids called the bill a good compromise that “funds smart and effective security at our borders and many other important investments in our communities.” The congresswoman, who is serving her first term in the 3rd District seat she captured from Republican Kevin Yoder in November, also criticized the president’s emergency declaration as “dangerous to our democracy.”

The Republican House members from Kansas all opposed the funding bill.

“It is shameful that these negotiations failed to secure our border, so I understand and respect the president’s declaration (of a national emergency),” U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said in a statement. Marshall, who represents the vast western Kansas 1st District, voted it down because it included only enough money to build 55 of the 230 miles of border wall sought by Trump.

“I’m fed up with it, and the more than 70 percent of Kansans in my district who want the wall built are sick and tired of the political games and dysfunction in Washington,” he said.

Rep. Ron Estes, a Republican from Wichita who oversees the 4th District, also said the lack of funding for the wall justified emergency declaration.

“Rather than President Trump needing to declare a national emergency to protect our country, Congress should have done its job to provide increased border security,” Estes said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins, a Topeka Republican serving his first term, ran as a “build the wall guy.” He said the funding bill doesn’t do what’s needed.

“Our border agents told us what it will require to secure our border and this is not it,” Watkins said on Twitter.

Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

Jim McLean is a political correspondent for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration based at KCUR with other public media stations across Kansas. You can email him at jim@kcur.org.
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