Congress: Bucking Trump’s ‘national emergency’
It’s a become a familiar storyline: “Republican senators flirt with taking a stand against President Trump on something they disagree about…and then back down,” said Aaron Blake in The Washington Post. But last week, a handful of them actually stood firm. Twelve GOP senators joined with Democrats in voting to cancel Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, which he is using to secure wall funding that lawmakers explicitly rejected. Trump promptly issued the first veto of his presidency, and Congress doesn’t have enough votes to override him. But it’s still an ominous sign for the president, who waged an unsuccessful arm-twisting campaign against wavering Republicans. If Republicans get away with bucking him on this, they might feel emboldened “to do it again.”
Still, in a “pathetic” display of cowardice, 41 of the 53 Senate Republicans backed Trump, said Philip Klein in Washington Examiner. Self-proclaimed constitutional conservatives Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska—who spent years issuing dire warnings about President Obama’s executive power grabs—“made fools of themselves” by voting in favor Trump’s brazen usurpation of Congress’ spending authority. This hypocrisy does “long-term damage to the conservative cause.” Nonsense, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Post. “The border is being swamped,” with border agents arresting record numbers of migrant families. Sounds like a national emergency to me, and if Congress won’t address it, Trump has to.
There’s a national emergency all right, said William Saletan in Slate.com, but it’s “coming from the Republican Party.” Days after giving Trump carte blanche to circumvent Congress, Republicans announced they want to amend the National Emergencies Act to make it easier for Congress to terminate future national emergency declarations. The goal: to prevent the next Democratic president from being able to exploit the precedent set by Trump. It’s breathtakingly cynical. “Just give us this one coup, says the authoritarian party, and we’ll restore democracy.” That ploy may not work, said Susan Glasser in NewYorker.com. Last week’s bipartisan rebuke adds to the legal case that Trump is deliberately defying Congress to spend money on a pet project. “It’s quite likely” the courts will strike down Trump’s emergency declaration as unconstitutional. “His banana republic will have to wait.”