SALT LAKE CITY — One Utah congressman says President Donald Trump would be "making a mistake" to declare a national emergency on the southern border, while other members of the state's congressional delegation don't think it's a good idea either.
The five Republicans and one Democrat, however, were divided on the budget deal the House and Senate passed Thursday to avoid another government shutdown.
Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. John Curtis voted against the spending package, while Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Chris Stewart and Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, voted for it.
"There is a crisis on the southern border. This compromise bill does not come close to solving that problem, but I don't want another government shutdown, so I have voted yes," Bishop said.
Lee called it a "bad spending bill for many reasons, most egregiously because it incentivizes drug cartels to traffic minors across our southern border."
The $330 billion package — which funds one-quarter of the government — includes $1.37 billion for 55 miles of border wall in Texas' Rio Grande Valley and additional money for security measures such as technology and law enforcement.
Trump said he would sign the spending bill and then declare a national emergency to get more money for barriers at the southern border.
Stewart said Trump would be "making a mistake" to declare an emergency.
"Whether the president has the authority or not, it sets a dangerous precedent and places America on a path that we will regret," he said.
"It deeply worries me that a future Democratic president may consider gun violence or climate change a 'national emergency' and what actions they may then take."
Stewart said while he agrees there must be more security at the border, he said the power of the president to make such declarations must be limited.
Curtis, too, said he worries that a "harmful precedent" could be set and whether it's legally justified.
"Congress needs to solve the difficult problems facing our borders and broken immigration system. We cannot rely on executive actions to get our job done," he said.
Bishop said Trump should not declare a national emergency.
"He needn't even be in this position if congress would have done its job and funded both the government and border security. This is a failure of Congress to act," Bishop said.
"I am frustrated with Democrat leadership, who have supported border security in the past, but now are insisting upon an inadequate compromise out of pure political spite."
On Trump's intention to declare a national emergency, Lee said it's too early to comment until the White House announces specific plans and identifies the legal justification for its actions.
Romney, too, said he would reserve judgment on potential executive action by the president until he can fully evaluate it, "but as I've said, I do not believe declaring a national emergency is the right approach. I would also expect the president to stay within statutory and constitutional limits."
Though he called the budget bill "far from perfect," Romney said he voted for it because it includes critical funding for border security and immigration enforcement, and prevents another government shutdown.
McAdams said he opposes a national emergency declaration, saying it should be reserved only for extreme or exigent circumstances.
Though the budget deal isn't perfect, it avoids another shutdown while making important investments in security for the borders and ports, he said.68 comments on this story
"Government shutdowns are terrible for workers, our economy and our national security. The president should never again harm all three by forcing a government shutdown to get his way," he said.
Congress now must work on immigration reform, including permanent protection for so-called "Dreamers," McAdams said.
"Fixing our broken immigration system is the true, long-term solution to border protection, economic security and a humane, compassionate response to people seeking safety and a better life for themselves and their families in America," he said.