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Key Republican senators oppose Trump's immigration ban and trade policy

With the Republican majority in the Senate just two, there's possible trouble ahead for Trump | Immigration ban watered down after legal setback.

Mon, 30 Jan 2017

Two Republican senators have spoken out against US President Donald Trump's immigration ban this morning.

In a joint statement, Arizona senator John McCain and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham say they fear the temporary ban on entry to the US by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries "will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."

The pair have already spoken out against the new president on trade policy. 

Mr McCain called the executive order withdrawing the US from the TPP "a serious mistake for America's economy and strategic position in Asia-Pacific," while on the clash with Mexico Mr Graham offered, "Border security yes, tariffs no," and called tariffs "a huge barrier to economic growth."

Their opposition is significant because the Republican Party only enjoys a majority of two in the 100-member Senate. Republican-backed legislation can still get through with the vice-president exercising his right to a casting vote to break any deadlock, but it's a rather fragile situation — and more so with Florida senator Marco Rubio (or Little Marco as Trump had him during the campaign) asking hostile questions of Trump cabinet nominees, and Kentucky senator and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell speaking out about the possibility sanctions against Russia will be lifted.

Executive orders have limits
And the new president will have to rely on getting legislation through the House and Senate. For example, while he can order the Secretary of Homeland Security to prepare for the development of a wall along the border with Mexico, only Congress can allocate the funds to build it (variously estimated at $US10 billion to $US25 billion).

It's important to note that McCain and Graham are not opposing Trump across the board. For example, both support his plans to expand the military. And the new president does, of course, have a recent history of overcoming the odds. But it looks like the pair do have a shot at delaying or derailing his plans in several areas.

Legal setback
Meanwhile, Mr Trump's immigration ban faced a legal setback yesterday NZ time, with a federal judge ruling that somewhere between 100 and 200 travellers from the seven countries who are being detained — because they were in the air at the time the President signed his executive order — could not be deported.

The early analysis was that US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly's ruling only applied to those who were already travelling at the time of the executive order, and did not challenge its wider constitutionality.

However, the White House appeared to relax its stance today NZT, with Trump's chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus, indicating that those from the seven banned countries who hold green cards will be allowed to return to the US.


Trump's first tweets in response: 

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Key Republican senators oppose Trump's immigration ban and trade policy