Politics Now co-host Steve Sebelius talks with Cortez Masto about the wall


Nevada U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has been fighting with the Trump administration over its plan to build a wall at the southern border.

Cortez Masto voted for a compromise plan that offered less than the president was seeking for the wall. and she’s co-sponsoring a bill that would prevent him from using emergency powers to take money from other projects to fund the wall.

Cortez Masto has only been in office for two years, but she’s now Nevada’s senior senator. In that time, she’s emerged as a critic of the Trump administration on a variety of issues.

Although some of her colleagues in congress have called the wall immoral or too expensive, Cortez Masto says she’s against it because it just won’t work.

“I know that because of my work down there. When I was attorney general here for eight years, I made a point of working with the western attorneys general on the border to address issues like human trafficking, weapons trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering that crosses the border because of transnational crimes. We established relationships with the AG’s in Mexico to address those concerns. And I can tell you, the eight years I was there, to finding solutions to address that type of crime that’s crossing the border, not one time did a border wall come up, because it’s not effective,” Sen. Cortez Masto said.

She said more effective border control measures were funded by the compromise bill that passed the senate with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 83 to 16. They include drones, sensors to detect drugs hidden in vehicles and more manpower to enforce border security.

As for Trump’s invocation of a law that allows him to move money from other projects in case of national emergency, Cortez Masto said the president’s action upsets the separation of powers between congress and the executive branch. 

“Well, here’s the thing, just because you disagree with our constitutional function which is to appropriate funds, just because you didn’t get your pet project as a president doesn’t mean you get to go around congress. Constitutionally there are separation of powers. There’re things that we are required to do. We appropriate the purse strings and then he implements and moves forward and executes on that in the administrative, executive branch. Just because he disagrees with how we appropriate doesn’t mean he gets to declare an emergency that he has manufactured. It’s outrageous to me,” Sen. Cortez Masto said.

All sides agree the emergency declaration will be reviewed by the courts. But Cortez Masto said if Trump wins, it will be time for congress to review the law and perhaps narrow the grounds on which future emergencies can be declared.

In addition to her duties as Nevada’s senior senator, Cortez Masto is in charge of recruiting Democratic candidates around the country for the 2020 election.

When asked about who might be thinking of running in other states, she’s keeping her prospects close to the vest.

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