Jan. 30, 4am EST: This story has been updated with more recent figures.
US president Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees plus citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US has sparked nationwide protests and scathing criticism from Democrats and civil-rights activists, and been blocked by several federal judges.
Although several elected Republicans, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, House speaker Paul Ryan, and vice president Michael Pence condemned the idea before Trump was elected (calling it “unconstitutional” and un-American at the time) most have remained silent since the order was signed on Friday (Jan. 27).
Senate Democrats almost unilaterally condemned the order, calling it a “moral abomination” among other things. Even as they remained silent on the issue, some Republicans, including South Dakota’s John Thune, chose to tweet about sports instead over the weekend.
1. After more then 24 hours of silence, Senate leader Mitch McConnell offered ABC’s “This Week” what seemed to be cautious criticism, while saying he didn’t want to criticize the administration: “It’s hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far. I don’t want to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful. We don’t have religious tests in this country.”
2 & 3. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement Sunday that Trump’s order was not properly vetted, and decrying his actions as ”a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.” They said: “Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they said in their statement. And that “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
4. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio called it an “extreme vetting program that wasn’t properly vetted” on CNN on Sunday, adding that he was glad federal judges had temporarily blocked it. Congress should be involved in any strengthening of the visa process and has already done work on the issue, he said.
5. Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona called it “unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry.” Protecting the country from “radical Islamic terrorism” must be done “without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.”
6. Senator Susan Collins from Maine called the ban “overly broad,” warned that religious tests “run contrary to our American values,” and said it could mean death for Iraqis who aided American forces and are forced to remain in Iraq.
7. Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, who is also chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the order “poorly implemented.”
8. Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee said “it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character.”
9. Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado ”While I’ve supported heightened vetting procedures, I have never, nor will I ever support a blanket travel ban, for people solely based on ethnic or religious grounds.”
10. Representative Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania, who has a large Syrian population among his constituents, called it “unacceptable,” adding “the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration,” even though it could mean life or death for innocent people.
11. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania said early on Sunday that “the president’s policy entirely misses the mark.” The former FBI counter-terrorism expert said the FBI was “focused on solutions, not engaging in partisan attacks or declaring a singular fix to a complicated issue.”
12. Representative Justin Amash from Michigan who was also an outspoken critic of Trump during the election campaign, said on Twitter that the order “overreaches and undermines our constitutional system,” and is illegal:
13. Representative Ben Sasse from Nebraska said the order will make America less safe: “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.”
14. Representative Carlos Curbelo from Florida said: “I expect that these executive orders are in fact temporary and that once the Administration strengthens the vetting process, we can continue our tradition of welcoming those who are persecuted in an orderly manner and without any kind of religious test.”
15. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida said: ”I object to the suspension of visas from the seven named countries because we could have accomplished our objective of keeping our homeland safe by immediate implementation of more thorough screening procedures.”
16. Representative Barbara Comstock from Virginia said: ”The President’s Executive Order issued yesterday went beyond the increased vetting actions that Congress has supported.”
17. Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado said: “I urge the Administration to take the appropriate steps to fix this overly broad executive order.”
18. Representative Elise Stefanik from New York said: “I oppose President Trump’s rushed and overly broad Executive Order.”
19. Representative Will Hurd from Texas said: ”This visa ban is the ultimate display of mistrust and will erode our allies’ willingness to fight with us.”
20. John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, said: “Frankly, when I look at this, I think he was ill-served by his staff. If I were the president, I’d be very upset with the staff “
21 & 22. Marco Rubio, a representative from Florida, and Tim Scott, a representative for South Carolina, said in a joint statement: “After reviewing the recent Executive Orders, it is clear to us that some of what is being said and reported about the scope and implications of these measures is misleading. However, it is also clear that the manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days. We generally support additional vetting for many of those entering our country from nations where the United States has identified there are serious concerns regarding terrorist activities and planning. But given the broad scope and nature of these policy changes, we have some unanswered questions and concerns.”
That makes 22 Republican senators and representatives who have openly criticized President Trump’s executive order so far—just 7% of the total of 302 Republican congress members.