Still think Donald Trump speaks only for the furthest fringes of the Republican Party? One of North Carolina’s U.S. senators just proved you wrong.
As you’ve probably heard, Trump, currently pulling more than double the support of his nearest rival, Ted Cruz
, recently proposed a “temporary” (read: probably not temporary) ban on Muslims entering the United States. In his own words
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.
Of course, Trump’s idea is utterly idiotic and racist, not to mention infeasible—e.g., what does “figure out what is going on” mean?
—but no matter: Since he unveiled this latest “policy proposal,” he’s actually gained ground in the polling
, despite top establishment conservatives
and other GOP candidates
either denouncing his statements or refusing to actually answer the question.
Trump’s ideas do have some support, though. And so on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, saw an opportunity to put his Republican colleagues on the spot. Leahy introduced a resolution attached to a nuclear terrorism bill that would effectively denounce Trump’s plan. The resolution simply states: “The sense of the Senate that the United States must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion, as such action would be contrary to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded.”
Surprisingly, it worked; the bill passed the 20-member Senate Judiciary committee with 16 votes, including seven Republicans.
Four adherents to the Party of Lincoln, however, just couldn’t get behind the kind of radical liberal-ism that says you can’t make someone pass some hackneyed religious test in order to enter a coun-try founded on freedom of religion. Who were these four brave souls? Per The Atlantic
Yet Cruz and three other Republicans on the committee—Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina—all voted against it.
That’s right: Not only was Trump’s foe for the Republican nomination unable to pass this simplest of Constitutional tests, but so were three other senators, including North Carolina’s own Thom Tillis. The same guy who wants to protect restaurants from the scourge of Big Handwashing
is hesitant to support a resolution—not a bill—that says the United States shouldn’t (not can’t
) ban Muslims from entering the country.
When asked why he voted against the resolution, Tillis told McClatchy
that he “didn’t like the way the measure was introduced,” and that he “didn’t want to complicate matters” with the terrorism bill. To his credit, he did say that banning Muslims is “not a good idea,” and that if the resolution had been introduced on its own rather than as an amendment to an unrelated bill, he would have sup-ported it. “As a stand-alone ‘sense of the Senate,’ I would vote for it,” Tillis said.
But Tillis’ “integrity of the process” nonsense would carry more weight if he didn’t vote “yes” just last week
on two Senate amendments about guns that were tacked onto another bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, and if this tactic wasn’t an ingrained feature of Senate politics that both parties use readily
. But he did, and it is. At the root of it, Thom Tillis declined to denounce religious testing, and when confronted, hid behind procedure.