Commentary

Baker’s Dozen of Senators Did Not Vote Along Party Lines on Border Wall

David North
By David North | January 25, 2019 | 3:41 PM EST

U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot)

In two separate votes in the Senate yesterday, neither the Democrats, with a vote of 52 to 44, nor the Republicans, with a vote of 50 to 47, reached the needed 60-vote mark in their respective efforts to fund the government, without the Wall (and other border-security measures), in the first instance, and with $5.7 billion for the Wall, in the second. In order to end debate on a bill, three-fifths of the senators need to agree.

While the large majority of senators voted along party lines, 13 did not, and their votes, or non-votes in four cases, may foreshadow their votes in future immigration policy debates.

The 13 included two Democrats, Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.); he was the only Democrat voting for the Republican bill (he also voted for the Democratic bill), and she did not participate in either balloting. Manchin is probably the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, and immigrants are few and far between in his state.

The 11 GOP members who did not follow their party line included three non-voters, Ron Paul (Ky.) and Jim Risch (Idaho), who were not recorded on either of the votes, and Senator Richard Burr (N.C.) who missed the vote on the Democratic bill, but voted with his party on the GOP bill.

The eight non-party votes cast by the remaining Republicans were:

  • Mike Lee (Utah) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who voted against the Republican bill, for reasons that are not immediately apparent; and
  • Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Mitt Romney (Utah), all of whom supported the Democratic bill.

Both Senators Collins and Gardner are up for re-election next year, both representing states which often elect Democrats. Alexander has announced he will not seek re-election next year.

Senators could vote for, or against, both bills. For example Alexander and Collins, among others, voted for both proposals.

David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, has over 40 years of immigration policy experience.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Center for Immigration Studies.

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