WASHINGTON — Divisions grew Tuesday among congressional Republicans over President Trump’s shutdown strategy, as a number of lawmakers expressed consternation over the possibility that he’d declare a national emergency to build his border wall, while others voiced some support for Democrats’ plans to reopen most of the government without the wall money that Trump has demanded.

Ahead of a nationally televised address by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence lobbied House Republicans in private to stand with the president, reminding them that Trump would not sign any spending bills passed by Democrats unless he gets the wall funding he wants, and urging them to reject the Democratic strategy.

But in a potentially perilous sign for Trump on the 18th day of the partial shutdown, cracks were multiplying within Republican ranks even before Pence ventured to Capitol Hill late Tuesday. The dissension was especially evident over whether Trump should declare a national emergency that would allow him to circumvent Congress and draw on military construction funds to build his wall, with some normally reliable supporters voicing concerns over the approach. “Right now, I don’t support that. We need to go through the system,” said conservative Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas. “I think there’s better ways to do it.”

Opposition also came from members of the House Armed Services Committee, who voiced concerns over cannibalizing the military budget to pay for the wall.

“I think border security is very important. It is not a responsibility of the Department of Defense,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the top committee Republican. “In short, I’m opposed to using defense dollars for nondefense purposes.”

And Pence’s presentation failed to quiet concerns from some Republicans who would like to see most of the government reopen while the fight over the border wall continues, an approach Democrats will attempt anew starting Wednesday by putting a series of spending bills on the House floor to fund shuttered agencies.

“My positions haven’t really changed,” Rep. Will Hurd of Texas – who was among around a half-dozen Republicans who broke ranks last week and voted with Democrats on an earlier spending bill to reopen the government without funding Trump’s wall – said after hearing from Pence on Tuesday night.

“Shutting down the government is never a good idea,” Hurd said.


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