But an intense lobbying campaign from the White House kept GOP defections to a minimum in the House. All nine Georgia Republicans in the chamber voted to reject the legislation.
“We’ve offered and negotiated in good faith, but the Democrats with their ‘not one cent’ (for the wall) mentality, they’re the ones who are causing this,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler.
Lawmakers prepared to leave Washington for the weekend with no obvious path out of the standstill.
However, some Georgia Republicans indicated they could be receptive to a last-ditch approach floated by Trump in which he would declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a wall.
“From a legal perspective, he is absolutely on solid ground,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a former lawyer. “It’s sad that the Democrats are forcing him into a choice on doing a national emergency when they will not sit down and discuss it.”
Presidents have rarely used emergency authorities for domestic purposes, and in the past members of Congress have been hostile to the executive branch stepping on their decision-making turf.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia’s senior-most Republican, has endorsed the need for a physical barrier on the southern border as well as his party’s rejection of Democrats’ moves to reopen the government piece by piece. But he was more wary than some of his GOP colleagues about the national emergency approach, likening it back to a similar debate on executive power that occurred in the Georgia Legislature after Atlanta’s child murders between 1979 and 1981.
“I have a lot of trouble with any one person having that much power without a check and a balance, even in a crisis,” he said. “I’m not (universally) opposed (to) it, but I’m also not without reservation until I know how much power it’s going to grant. And if it’s solely one individual, I want to know how they’re going to execute it.”
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