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Trump administration warns of record illegal border crossings ahead of vote by Congress

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The Trump administration warned Republican lawmakers Tuesday about record numbers of illegal crossings at the southern border with Mexico as Congress appeared to be on the verge of terminating President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency there.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the U.S. Capitol as the White House sought to discourage more Republican defections on the measure rebuking the president. Republican senators had a “spirited discussion” on the matter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

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Trump declared an emergency at the border Feb. 15, saying this allows him to use money that Congress has appropriated for other purposes in order to build a border wall. Trump says the wall is needed to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

The Democratic-majority House of Representatives already has approved a measure to overturn Trump’s border wall emergency, and the Republican-run Senate is expected to follow suit by the end of next week now that four Senate Republicans say they will join Democrats in passing it.

But there does not appear to be a super-majority in Congress to override an expected Trump veto.

Emerging from a lunchtime meeting with Nielsen, some lawmakers said she made a strong presentation about a crisis at the border, with record numbers of immigrants showing up.

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“Secretary Nielsen just released the latest apprehension numbers,” with 60,000 apprehended at the border in January and 76,000 in February, Montana Republican Steve Daines said. “Based on the current trend lines this will be an all-time record year for illegal apprehensions” at the southern border, he said.

Daines supported Trump’s emergency declaration, saying, “I am a northern border-state senator with a southern border crisis. It is drugs, it is meth, it is destroying our communities and families in Montana.”

But Nielsen’s presentation did not convince Senator Rand Paul, who announced at the weekend that he would join three other Republican senators to vote to block Trump’s border emergency. This is enough for it to pass, assuming all Senate Democrats back it as well.

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“To me it has nothing to do with immigration. It has to do with whether or not the president can spend money that Congress didn’t give to him,” Paul told reporters after the lunch.

Paul said he thought there are at least another six Republican senators who feel the same way he does but “I don’t know if they will all follow through with it” and vote to nullify the president’s declaration.

Paul also said he had spoken to Trump about the matter. “I talked to the president the other night about it. I think he understands that I have strong beliefs that the Constitution indicates only the Congress should spend money.”

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Last month, Congress rejected Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build a border wall, prompting him to take unilateral action. Democrats insist there are better, less expensive ways to improve border security than building border walls.

If the Senate joins the House in voting to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, the president’s anticipated veto would be the first of his presidency. During his first two years as president, Republicans controlled the Senate, House and White House.

That is in contrast to Trump’s three immediate predecessors who all vetoed bills during the periods in which their party controlled the Congress and White House – and is a reflection of how closely Republican lawmakers and Trump have worked in tandem while in power.

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Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Sonya Hepinstall and Lisa Shumaker


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘Martyrdom for snowflakes’: CNN analyst knocks Republicans who desperately wanted to be arrested at protest

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CNN host Don Lemon reported Wednesday evening that many Republicans wanted to be arrested for storming the secure room where the House Intelligence Committee depositions were taking place.

Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted that he was told "there was never any chance [members] who barged into SCIF would be arrested by [capital police], but some members asked to be arrested. They wanted the optic of being frog-marched out of the SCIF in front of TV cameras. That would help w/GOP narrative of Dem process abuse."

https://twitter.com/ChadPergram/status/1187173332682182656

Commentator Wajahat Ali called it the perfect example of "martyrdom for snowflakes."

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Seth Meyers says Republicans storming classified room looked like a protest at a pharmacy that ran out of Viagra

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"Late Night" comedian Seth Meyers couldn't help but lambast the far-right Republicans angry that they're not being included in the depositions ahead of the impeachment hearings.

Wednesday, Republicans stormed a secure room known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), because they seemed to misunderstand the difference between a deposition and a hearing. In Congressional hearings, witnesses will be presented for members of the committee to question. In a classified deposition, the witness can give information that is considered classified for security reasons. Oddly, some members who are allowed in the room were also protesting.

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WATCH: CNN’s Don Lemon bursts out laughing over Trump’s new wall in Colorado

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CNN's Don Lemon typically deals with difficult and intense topics at the top of his weekly show. Wednesday night, however, after a serious opener about Syria and ISIS, Lemon broke into hysterics over President Donald Trump's flub saying he would build a border wall on Colorado's border.

"You know why we're going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on our border. And they didn't have it," said Trump. "And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico. And we're building a wall in Colorado. We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works — you can't get over, you can't get under. And we're building a wall in Texas. And we're not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls that we just mentioned. And Louisiana's incredible."

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