The intensity of Democratic and left-wing opposition to President Trump is taking a toll even on congressional Republicans.

“It’s just a giant hassle,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. “Everybody is losing it on the left.”

“The world is upside down,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “What is going on is the frustration of the American people, on both sides.”

Republican lawmakers have faced raucous town halls with anti-Trump protesters shouting them down. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., had to leave on with police escort. “Do your job!” demonstrators jeered at House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, after he noted the president was exempt from federal conflict-of-interest laws.

Protesters initially blocked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from entering two Washington, D.C., public schools Friday. Earlier in the week, Senate Democrats tried to block her from the job but failed due to Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was ruled out of order during the debate over nominating Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general when her criticisms were deemed by Republicans to impugn his character and motives in violation of Senate rules. After Sessions was confirmed, Warren ascribed to him “racism, sexism, bigotry.”

Democrats mounted all-night protests against both nominees. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus stormed the Senate floor to highlight their opposition to Sessions.

“We mostly roll our eyes and laugh,” a Republican congressional aide said of Democratic tactics. So far, the Democrats have failed to stop any of Trump’s nominees, largely because of a filibuster rule change their own party made when they controlled the Senate.

With the exception of Trump’s immigration order, now tied up in courts, the president has gotten much of what he wants in the early days of his administration.

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For Capitol Hill Republicans, the stress of overcoming Democratic stalling in Congress and the anti-Trump “resistance” in the streets is still outweighed by excitement over the opportunities unified control of the federal government provides.

“These are friends of mine. They’re acting badly. And we’ll get past it,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., told Politico. “I’m embarrassed for them.”

Democratic morale is lower, because of their minority status and the futility of many of their battles against the administration.

“They’re not smiling,” Brat said. “They’re upset.”

But the whirlwind activity of the Trump administration and its detractors has had an impact on Republicans too.

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Several GOP lawmakers complained it was becoming difficult to sift constituent concerns from anti-Trump protests, not always from their districts. Even within their districts, they said they were facing newly politically engaged voters who are demanding they stand up to Trump — even though they were elected making a different set of commitments to the constituents who voted for them.

One recent poll found that 56 percent of Democrats want their party’s congressional wing to oppose Trump even if it means administration jobs don’t get filled or bills get defeated.

“I hope the spring and summer will bring more civility than we see right now,” Jones said.

“Tim Kaine has always been nice to me,” said Brat, referring to the Virginia Democratic senator who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 campaign. “Now he’s gone from being a Guatemalan seminarian to a Guatemalan jungle fighter. I don’t recall street fighters in the New Testament, maybe he can show me.”

Congressional Republicans are unsure of whether the anti-Trump protests are similar to the Tea Party that powered many of them into office or more like the ultimately ineffectual demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Several lawmakers said the Trump protests were less ideologically unified and more chaotic than the Tea Party. But while conservatives raise allegations about paid protesters and astroturfing funded by liberal billionaires, similar accusations were made on the left about the Tea Party.

Trump does his part to fan the flames, hitting back at critics on Twitter.

“You’ve got all these distractions with the tweets here and the tweets there,” said Jones. “I wish he didn’t tweet so much, but that’s his decision, not mine.”

“He is provocative, he eggs them on,” Brat said of Trump’s relationship with the Americans outraged by his presidency.

“We need to be gracious in victory but not stupid and weak,” he added. “Trump is very good about saying you can’t be stupid and weak, if he can figure out the first part we’ll be in business.”

With Trump's order in limbo, states take action against sanctuary cities

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Legislation is beginning to bubble up in the states that would impose punishments on sanctuary jurisdictions.

By Todd Shepherd

02/12/17 3:11 PM

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