After a closed-door lunch with White House deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Justice Department officials, Republican senators who were in attendance told reporters that President Donald Trump’s administration officials are considering the idea of declaring a second national emergency relating to Mexico.
This time, it would be used to implement new tariffs on the country in an effort to control the flow of migrants crossing the southern U.S. border illegally, according to The Hill.
Last week, Trump announced he would be imposing the new tariffs as soon as next week, citing his ability to do so under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters that during the lunch, GOP senators asked Trump administration officials about their plans regarding the matter. When questioned by reporters about the administration’s response, he explained that nothing was set in stone at this point.
“I think that was somewhat up in the air. … I think that’s a distinct possibility but I don’t think there’s any definitive answer,” he said.
Sen. Mike Rounds reiterated Johnson’s answer but in more detail.
“The way they put it was, they’re still working through all the details on it and they have not decided what their approach is going to be yet with regard to that. That was my understanding,” he said.
One major concern voiced by Republican senators over Trump using another national emergency to bypass Congress is that it would set up a potentially nasty fight within the Senate. The reason being is that it could mean a new resolution of disapproval vote would have to take place to allow Republicans to block the tariffs.
On that subject, Johnson explained that the Trump administration “would have to be concerned” because “tariffs are not real popular in the Republican conference.”
Trump could face new GOP rebuke on Mexico tariffs. Many on Hill think he’ll have to declare another national emergency to impose them https://t.co/ubvTMUGMQa
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) June 4, 2019
A resolution of disapproval was successfully passed earlier this year that would have blocked Trump from declaring the first national emergency on the U.S. border, except the president vetoed it and Congress failed to override the veto due to the lack of votes.
High-profile senators like Sen. Ted Cruz and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both expressed the unpopularity of tariffs within the Republican party and that it wouldn’t be popular for the administration to pursue them.
The Hill added that one of the senators in attendance at the luncheon reportedly said that of the approximately half-dozen senators in the room, not one of them were in favor of imposing new tariffs on Mexico.