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Democrats vote to block diplomats' funds from going to Trump hotels, golf resorts

Rachel Oswald, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats offered another rebuke to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, this time by voting to block the State Department from spending taxpayers' money at his domestic and overseas golf clubs and hotels.

The House voted 231-187 to adopt an amendment that would prohibit the department from spending funds at any of the Trump Organization's hundreds of hotels, golf resorts and other properties. The provision was voted on as part of an en bloc package of amendments Democratic leaders put together to avoid the risk of floor time being eaten up by roll call votes on each.

The amendments become part of the fiscal 2020 State-Foreign Operations portion of a broader spending package that is expected to receive a floor vote this week.

The State Department, since 2017, has paid nearly $80,000 to properties owned, managed or branded by the president's private company, The Trump Organization, according to data tabulated by the investigative news site ProPublica. The tab for American taxpayers includes a nearly $11,000 payment to the president's golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland. ProPublica said it was not clear when that specific payment was made.

During a state visit with his family to the U.K. last month, Trump spent two nights at his Doonbeg golf club. "We're going to be staying at Doonbeg in Ireland because it's convenient and it's a great place," Trump was quoted by The Washington Post as saying before he departed.

If House Democrats have anything to say about it, planning for official State Department visits to Trump properties would become more logistically complicated.

"President Trump's refusal to divest himself of his many businesses raises serious questions about compliance with the domestic Emoluments Clause, which protects against presidential corruption," Rep. Steve Cohen, the Tennessee Democrat who sponsored the amendment, said before the vote. "By prohibiting the use of federal funds at businesses owned, in whole or in part, by President Trump, we will be sending a strong message to the American people that we will not allow this or any other president to use his high office for personal enrichment."

 

All except two Republicans voted against the measure.

During floor debate Thursday, Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers objected to the amendment, calling it a "partisan stunt" and saying it would "jeopardize the safety and security of State Department personnel and foreign dignitaries."

"The mission of diplomatic security is to protect the people, places and vital information that allow the United States to be a leader in world events," the top Republican on the Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee said. "That includes protecting the personal security of the secretary of state when he is tasked by the president with attending summits at one of the properties listed in the amendment. The president, not the secretary of state, selects travel locations."

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