WASHINGTON ― Republican Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) criticized President Donald Trump on cable news Sunday for leaving Congress out of the loop in his decision to temporarily bar entry to all refugees and individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“I think [the executive order] was not properly vetted, so you have an extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had, and as a result, we’re seeing some problems,” Portman told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Late Saturday night, as protests erupted at several major U.S. airports where immigrants were being detained, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, temporarily blocked parts of Trump’s sweeping executive order. U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said the petitioners ― represented by the American Civil Liberties Union ― “have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioners and others similarly situated violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
Portman, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is “OK with the stay” on Trump’s immigration order. “We ought to take a deep breath and come up with something that makes sense,” he said.
The travel ban has divided Republicans in Congress. Five Republican members ― Sens. Ben Sasse (Neb.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine), along with Reps. Charlie Dent (Pa.) and Justin Amash (Mich.) ― came out against Trump’s executive order this week.
“If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion,” Sasse said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he supports stronger vetting of refugees and immigrants, but that the order should not specifically target Muslims, who are some of the U.S.’s best allies. “We need to be careful we don’t have religious tests in this country,” he said on ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday morning.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was one of the first members on Friday to support Trump’s order. “This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” said his spokeswoman AshLee Strong.