September 26, 2019/Press

Tillis Votes Again with Trump “Despite NC Military Cuts”

Raleigh – Senator Tillis again put his political survival before North Carolina, voting yesterday for a second time to allow the administration to move forward with raiding $80 million in funding meant for North Carolina’s military bases. Tillis “at first objected” to the move the first time it appeared but wilted under pressure after “a harsh reaction from conservatives in the state” that earned him a wealthy primary challenger. Now, Tillis is trying to “hug Trump as close as possible” to survive his expensive, divisive Republican primary amid “middling approval ratings” – a “High Point University poll released Wednesday found 27% of North Carolinians approve and 38% disapprove of the job Tillis is doing.”

News & Observer: Tillis votes again with Trump on border emergency declaration, despite NC military cuts
By Brian Murphy and Jim Morrill
September 25, 2019

Key Points:

  • North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis voted a second time Wednesday to back President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration that allowed the military to shift millions from construction projects in North Carolina to help build a wall on the southern border.
  • Tillis, a Republican from Huntersville, at first objected to Trump’s national emergency declaration when the issue first emerged in February, writing a column in The Washington Post to highlight his position. But after a harsh reaction from conservatives in the state, Tillis opted to stick with Trump on the votes in March and on Wednesday.
  • In between those votes, the Department of Defense announced the $3.6 billion in projects that would see their funding shifted to the border wall. Included in that amount was $47 million in active projects from North Carolina, including $15.3 million for a new ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune to replace “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled facilities.”
  • The department’s list also included $33 million for a previously canceled elementary school at Fort Bragg.
  • Less clear and more important is if it has repaired his relationship with GOP primary voters in North Carolina. When Trump announced Tillis at a Fayetteville rally earlier this month, there were boos from the pro-Trump crowd.
  • “It points to the fact that there’s obviously some dislike of Tillis among the Trump base in the state,” said Andrew Taylor, an N.C. State political scientist professor.
  • Among voters in general, a High Point University poll released Wednesday found 27% of North Carolinians approve and 38% disapprove of the job Tillis is doing. Trump, for comparison, is at 42% approval and 50% disapproval.
  • The move to cling to Trump comes as Tillis faces two GOP challengers: retired Raleigh businessman and author Garland Tucker III and farmer Sandy Smith.
  • The Cook Political Report, which ranks races, changed its prediction for the North Carolina seat from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican” last week, moving it one notch toward Democrats. It is expected to be the fifth most-competitive race in 2020, behind only Democratic-held Alabama and Republican-held Colorado, Maine and Arizona. Morning Consult, which does extensive polling on senators, found Tillis with a 33% approval rating, the lowest in the nation.
  • The new facility at Camp Lejeune, which was scheduled to get funding in January according to the Department of Defense, would include primary care, behavioral health, physical therapy, dental, pharmacy, laboratory, X-ray and supporting administrative functions, according to the request. It would also “solve the problem of providing Primary Care services to the active duty operational forces in decentralized care (stations) located in substandard infrastructure throughout the installation.”
  • The money was supposed to come in January 2020, according to the Department of Defense. But the funding issue isn’t going away.
  • “We’ve appropriated the money. These are hard-earned dollars. We don’t appropriate twice or three times. We appropriate once. We expect the appropriation to be spent as directed,” said Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat and member of the House Appropriations Committee. “This is totally, totally out of line. We have rules about how you move money around, you don’t whenever you have a disagreement declare a national emergency and move it around at will.”
  • Throughout the 2016 campaign and into his presidency, Trump said Mexico would pay for the border wall.

Washington Post: Trump wall money appears safe after Senate effort to block funding falls short of veto-proof majority – again
By Erica Werner and Aaron Gregg
September 25, 2019

Key Points:

  • The Senate voted for the second time Wednesday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, once again falling well short of a veto-proof majority needed to block the money.
  • The 54-to-41 vote was similar to the outcome in March, the first time the Senate voted on the disapproval resolution. Eleven Republicans sided with Democrats Wednesday to support the measure, which required a simple majority to pass.
  • Senators had important new information as they cast their votes Wednesday — although it didn’t change the result.
  • When senators last voted on the issue, the Pentagon had not released a list of the $3.6 billion in military construction projects that were being canceled to pay for Trump’s border barrier.
  • But it was released earlier this month, and senators have a list of the specific projects in their states that are being scrapped to free up funding for Trump’s wall. That dynamic created new pressure for GOP senators, especially those up for reelection in 2020, to weigh their allegiance to Trump and his border wall against their support for much-needed projects at military bases and installations back home.
  • Some of the projects are in the home states of the GOP senators who are considered most vulnerable in their reelection fights, and Democratic campaign committees and challengers have already been making plans to use the issue against them.
  • And in North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis (R) is up for reelection, $47 million is being canceled for projects including a health-care facility for active duty Marines at Camp Lejeune. The existing facility “lacks basic requirements such as sinks, proper ventilation and exam rooms with doors,” defense officials wrote in 2017.
  • Tillis already faced pressure on the issue because before the March vote he announced that he planned to oppose the national emergency declaration, only to reverse himself under pressure from Trump supporters in North Carolina.
  • At the time, Tillis said he was hopeful of being able to work with the Trump administration to update the National Emergencies Act. A spokesman said Tillis has been working on legislation that has passed the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee to place greater constraints on the use of presidential emergency declarations. As he did before, Tillis voted Wednesday to uphold Trump’s border emergency.

New York Times: Senate Again Rejects Trump’s Border Emergency, but Falls Short of a Veto-Proof Majority
By Emily Cochrane
September 25, 2019

Key Points:

  • The Senate voted on Wednesday for a second time to terminate the national emergency that President Trump declared at the southwestern border, in a bipartisan rejection of Mr. Trump’s bid to build a wall without congressional approval.
  • But the 54-to-41 vote, in which 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break with the president over his signature domestic priority, fell short of the margin that would be needed to overcome a presidential veto, ensuring that Mr. Trump would be able to continue to redirect military funding to build a barrier on the southwestern border.
  • It confronted Republicans with a choice between breaking with a president who demands loyalty and preserving money Congress had set aside for military projects in their states, and sticking with Mr. Trump’s border wall, even at the expense of their own constituents.
  • Heightening the political tension around the vote, the Pentagon this month unveiled a list of military construction projects that would be delayed as a result of the national emergency declaration.
  • Senators Martha McSally of Arizona, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Cory Gardner of Colorado were among the Republicans who voted in lock step with the president, though projects in their states are slated for funding delays.

Politico: Morning Score
By Steven Shepard and Zach Montellaro
September 26, 2019

  • THE SENATE MAP — Tillis has a primary challenge from self-funder Garland Tucker in his sights, and his strategy to fend him off is to hug Trump as close as possible. Tillis came out strong against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry to start off the day: “This is yet another pathetic attempt by Democrats to destroy President Trump with falsehoods to overturn the results of the 2016 election,” he tweeted following the release of the “memorandum” of Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (POLITICO’s Natasha Bertrand has a great line-by-line breakdown of the memo), which earned him a presidential retweet.
  • Tillis also sided with the president on a second vote in the Senate to disapprove of the president’s attempt to fund the border wall by fishing into military construction budgets. Eleven Republicans broke rank — including Maine’s Susan Collins, who is similarly up for reelection — while Tillis, Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Cory Gardner (Colo.) all stuck with Trump. POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine wrote that while it passed the Senate, it does not have a veto-proof majority.
  • A poll in the state has middling approval ratings for Tillis as well. The High Point University poll , which was conducted by phone and online, has 29 percent approving of the job Tillis is doing, 41 percent disapproving and 30 percent unsure. Trump is at 44 percent approve, to 49 disapprove. And Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is also expected to have a competitive reelection fight in 2020, is at 48 percent approval, and 31 percent disapproval (813 self-IDed registered voters; Sept. 13-19).