The GOP’s Majority leader in waiting John Cornyn (R-TX) just broke ranks with President Trump over his purge of the Department of Homeland Security.
“It’s a mess,” Senator Cornyn told Politico last night, lashing out at Trump for his Sunday Night Massacre-style mass firing at DHS.
The Texas senator slammed White House senior advisor Stephen Miller for taking over national immigration and border policy. Cornyn faces a difficult re-election battle in 2020 and his move could signal a seismic political shift within his party. Politico reports:
Cornyn said he has no idea what Miller’s “agenda” is in determining immigration policy because he isn’t Senate-confirmed and doesn’t correspond with the Hill.
“He thinks it’s a winning issue,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip. “It works for him. It may not work for everybody else.”
President Trump gave Stephen Miller a blank check to wreak havoc in a recent Oval Office meeting last week.
Since then, Trump’s DHS upheaval has resulted in the federal government’s third-largest agency with a 240,000 person workforce and $40 billion annual budget is missing eight of its top appointed officials, all of whom who require Senate confirmation.
The list of missing appointments now includes Trump deploying an acting head of FEMA just two months before the start of Hurricane season.
“One hard-liner is not going to dictate the outcome of this,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) commented to Politico in disgust about the hard-line White House aide known as Trump’s “right-hand troll.”
One of Trump’s top defenders on Fox News is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who Chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. Even he broke ranks and issued a statement saying:
“I am concerned about a growing leadership void within the department tasked with addressing some of the most significant problems facing the nation.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is the fifth-ranking member of GOP leadership and went on the record supporting Cornyn’s position. Like Cornyn, she too faces a difficult battle for re-election in 2020.
The senior Republican Senator from Iowa also took a public stand against Trump’s Sunday Night Massacre. Sen. Chuck Grassley is also one of the GOP’s most outspoken members and according to Politico, he’s trying to arrest the president’s firing rampage:
[He] is trying to head off even more dismissals as Trump tries to reshape DHS into a “tougher” mold.
In an interview, Grassley expressed concern that Trump may soon boot U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna and Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, who heads the office of policy and strategy at USCIS. “I heard that they are on the list to be fired. They are doing in an intellectuallike way what the president wants to accomplish. So no, they should not go.”
Senator Grassley is a political institution in the state which traditionally holds the first caucuses of each election, which might catch Trump’s attention as the contest looms ten months away.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) chimed in calling Trump’s move “classless” and even his backers like Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) admitted to Politico that he had no idea what the president is actually trying to accomplish by purging DHS, but supports it anyway.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) completely dismantled the filibuster for Trump, and his followers can consent to most of his appointments now with just 51 votes and little or no deliberation.
Donald Trump’s purpose is to bypass Congressional oversight altogether, even what little of it is provided by GOP senators.
Will the Senate Republican caucus pair actions with their words and actually break with President Trump on his signature issue of immigration to try and save their own skins? Or will Senate Republicans continue to flake, permitting Donald Trump and his flunkies to run wild spreading terror upon refugees seeking asylum?
Senate GOP seems determined to send signal to Trump that he needs to stop ousting top immigration and homeland security officials. But they have often warned him and praised officials — Jeff Sessions, Jim Mattis chief among them — that ended up derided and gone.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) April 9, 2019