Raleigh – Just before the new year, the Washington Post listed Senator Thom Tillis’ “Olympic gold flip flop” as one of the “37 quotes that defined American politics in 2019.” At the time, Tillis said “It’s never a tough vote for me when I’m standing on principle” — moments before those principles quickly disappeared and Tillis flip-flopped on allowing the president to raid billions from critical military construction project funding.
Tillis also earned recognition from the Washington Post for his infamous op-ed, which according to the Post was one of their favorites of 2019 because it provided “the kind of distilled proof one rarely gets in the real world of how the Republican Party has abandoned principle for expediency and political survival in the Trump era.”
Nearly a year after Tillis’ humiliating flip-flop, the issue he once called a “short-term distraction” still refuses to go away. In the end of the year spending bill, Tillis failed to secure money to backfill the $80 million taken from North Carolina’s military bases as part of the emergency declaration.
That failure came despite Tillis repeatedly promising to do so, even saying in (yet another) op-ed that he has “taken action” to secure the additional funding.
The list of projects affected includes a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, which would have replaced current facilities that are “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled,” according to the military.
Washington Post: 37 quotes that defined American politics in 2019
By Aaron Blake
December 31, 2019
The year 2019 is over in a few short hours. And as we look back on what transpired over the past 12 months, what better way than to do it in the words of the politicians themselves?
Here’s the story of the year in politics, in quotes.
23. “It’s never a tough vote for me when I’m standing on principle.”
-Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) to The Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim, explaining his opposition to Trump using a national emergency declaration to fund his border wall. Tillis, though, wound up voting to support the decision in the face of a conservative backlash back home.
Washington Post: Our favorite Washington Post op-eds of 2019
By Fred Hiatt
December 17, 2019
“I support Trump’s vision on border security. But I would vote against the emergency.” by Thom Tillis
This is a bittersweet choice. Tillis, a Republican senator from North Carolina, eloquently set out why principle demanded that he vote against President Trump’s emergency use of funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, even though, Tillis said, he supported the barrier. “It is my responsibility to be a steward of the Article I branch, to preserve the separation of powers and to curb the kind of executive overreach that Congress has allowed to fester for the better part of the past century,” Tillis wrote. “I stood by that principle during the Obama administration, and I stand by it now.” Tillis then turned around and voted for the emergency, providing the kind of distilled proof one rarely gets in the real world of how the Republican Party has abandoned principle for expediency and political survival in the Trump era. — Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor
News & Observer: NC bases lost millions to the border wall. The new budget doesn’t replace the money.
By Brian Murphy
December 21, 2019
- In its legislative sprint to the end of the year, Congress approved a $1.4 trillion spending package this week, one that included $738 billion for defense. The deal, signed by President Donald Trump on Friday night, averted a government shutdown and funds the government through the end of the 2020 fiscal year.
- The bipartisan spending deal, however, does not include money for projects that had their funding redirected to the border wall by Trump under his national emergency declaration. Democrats who control the House and who are against allowing Trump to move money to the border wall, balked at “backfilling” the previous projects and won that fight.
- Of the more than $3.6 billion that was redirected to the wall, $80 million came from projects in North Carolina, including $40 million for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, $6.4 million for a storage facility for the new KC-46 tanker at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and $32.9 million for a previously canceled elementary school at Fort Bragg. The ambulatory care center was to replace current facilities that are “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled,” according to the military.
- North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who flipped his position to support Trump’s emergency declaration, is facing criticism over the unfunded projects from one Democratic challenger in his 2020 re-election bid.
- Tillis and fellow North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr were among the 81 senators to vote for the spending package this week even without the funding.
- In a Washington Post editorial, published in February, Tillis explained why he would not support Trump’s emergency declaration even though he backed Trump’s vision on border security. He wrote he was defending the legislative branch’s powers and called out his party colleagues for hypocrisy on the issue of executive power.
- “Republicans need to realize that this will lead inevitably to regret when a Democrat once again controls the White House, cites the precedent set by Trump, and declares his or her own national emergency to advance a policy that couldn’t gain congressional approval,” Tillis wrote in the editorial, which the Post this week named one of its favorites of 2019.
- But weeks later, after criticism from conservatives, Tillis voted with Trump on the national emergency declaration.
- The measure has come up for two other votes, including a veto override in October, and Tillis has voted with Trump on both occasions. Tillis defended his position, said there was time to “re-allocate funding” and called out the news media and liberals for distorting the debate.
- “None of the remaining projects are set to begin until 2020, which means Congress has plenty of time to re-allocate funding. I’ve taken action to do just that,” he wrote in an editorial for the Greensboro News & Record.
- The end result of the legislative wrangling is the money was not included.
- The spending deal approved this week includes $1.4 billion for new barriers at the border and would allow Trump to again reach into defense funds to fund the wall. Democrats won victories on other spending priorities in the bipartisan agreement.