Yesterday, President Trump signed his veto of the rebuke from Congress, which resolved to terminate Trump’s declaration of emergency concerning our southern border.
To clarify, both the House and the Senate voted and passed the resolution to terminate Trump’s declaration of emergency in a bipartisan, large majority manner.
To clarify further, Congress has now weighed in twice on the situation of building a wall on the southern border and the proper means in doing so. The first time, Congress voted against appropriating the money for the wall. This is the exclusive, Constitutional authority of the Legislative Branch of government. Arguments were made for and against it, debates occurred, and the vote was had. Trump’s request for funding for the wall was denied in the proper process of our Constitutional Republic. There is simply no question or debate about that.
But that wasn’t good enough for a President who obviously doesn’t respect that process. He decided to take it upon himself to thwart our Constitutional process and wrongly use a law that Congress passed decades ago to provide the President with the authority to declare emergency situations that would allow him to divert money appropriated for other things toward addressing the emergency.
Yes, Congress did pass such a law. The National Emergencies Act of 1976, specifically. This act was not intended to grant the President with new powers and authority. Rather, it was an attempt to rein in a chaotic system of the Executive using emergency powers through various legislation previously passed by Congress. The 1976 Act essentially terminated all previous emergency declarations and set forth to implement a more controlled plan for future declarations. It provided for increased accountability of the Executive by requiring the President to specify exactly what statutes he was using for his emergency declarations and listing the specific statutes that governed the emergency powers that he was using (such as diverting money from one appropriated use to use in addressing his stated emergency). It also provided a means for Congress to terminate the emergency declaration through a joint resolution.
However, any reasonable interpretation of the National Emergencies Act would understand that the intent of providing the President with such authority would be for situations of such an urgent nature that Congress, itself, would not have time to address, consider, and vote on. It is just not possible that Congress intended to give the Executive power to override decisions about a specific issue that has already been debated and voted upon by Congress.
But this is exactly how Trump is using it. It is a clear abuse of this statute, as well as the underlying Constitutional issues of separation of powers. Thankfully, a solid majority of Congress in both the House and Senate recognize that and voted against such abuse. Unfortunately, 182 in the House and 41 in the Senate voted to allow the President to do this. All of them Republicans. Make no mistake, if a Democrat President did the exact same thing, every single one of these Republicans would have voted the other way. Of that, I am 100% confident. To be sure, I am just as confident that the vast majority of Democrats would have voted the other way as well, so this in not a praising of the Democrats’ principled adherence to the Constitution. All the same, this is further evidence that the Republicans are all in on the “ends justify the means” strategy of governance. It’s shameful and it will not end well for the GOP, and more importantly for our Republic.
In his veto statement to congress, Trump stated the reasoning for his emergency and the veto by describing the problem (as he sees it) at the border, using a litany of statistics and various arguments. All of this is not new and is not an emergency that Congress has not considered. On the contrary, all of these statistics and arguments were thoroughly debated in Congress and voted upon. Congress disagreed with the President and voted likewise, refusing to appropriate the money for his wall.
While thwarting Congress and our Constitutional process, President Trump has consistently declared that the American people are with him, that he has the support of the people.
By what measure?
A recent analysis of polling on the subject by The Washington Post shows this:
The average of all of this direct polling of the people shows a repudiation of Trump’s declaration by an almost 2-1 margin.
Of course, the polling shows that Trump’s move is way more popular among Republicans:
The emergency declaration is quite unpopular among Democrats and most independents, though it is favored by a majority of Republicans. In the most recent Monmouth poll, 93 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents disapproved of Trump declaring a national emergency, while 73 percent of Republicans approved. Those opinions were largely consistent with January’s Monmouth poll, in which 93 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents disapproved while 71 percent of Republicans approved.The Washington Post
I guess by “the people”, Trump really means “his people”…his base, which is what the remaining people in the GOP are. In his view, anyone that does not agree with his position on this, is apparently not a part of “the people”, or at least the people that matter to him.
But forget about the polling. Polling doesn’t matter at all when discussing whether or not “the people” support something on a federal level.
In our system of a representative Republic, the only thing that tells us what “the people” support is exactly how the Legislative Branch votes. the Legislature is the direct representation of “the people”. That’s how it works. So, if you want to know what “the people” support, the only thing you should look at in our system, is that vote in Congress. Period. Therefore, contrary to what Trump claims (having the support of the people), the reality is exactly the opposite.
Trump arrogantly, directly, and despotically thwarted the will of the people.
Congress (the people) made it perfectly clear. First, they voted against Trump’s request for funding his wall…then they voted to terminate his declaration of emergency.
Like a King, he has now told the people to go to hell…that he will do whatever he wants, despite the people’s objections…while claiming he’s doing it with their blessing. That is (or should be) unacceptable, no matter who you are.
The question is, what will the people (Congress) do about it now?