By Carol Rushton
On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the United States Senate joined the House Representatives in passing a resolution preventing President Donald Trump from using the National Emergencies Act to build a security wall on our southern border to stop the invasion of illegals, drugs, thugs, murderers, gang members, terrorists, and OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) crossing into our country from Mexico every day. The following day, President Trump promptly vetoed it, the first veto of his presidency.
In order to override a president’s veto, Congress must pass the legislation again with a two-thirds majority in each house. Neither the House or the Senate has the votes to override the president’s veto.
It’s no surprise that liberal Republicans like Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) were on board with voting against the president. They don’t like him anyway, so this was an easy vote for them. But it is somewhat disconcerting that other Republicans like Rand Paul voted for the resolution as well.
Paul, Ted Cruz, and other Republicans have expressed concern that President Trump using the National Emergencies Act to stop non-citizens from pouring into our country is a “constitutional crisis,” a violation of the separation of powers laid out in our Constitution, and therefore unconstitutional.
NPR reported Rand Paul’s statement on why he was voting for the resolution. “I can’t vote to give extra-Constitutional powers to the president . . . I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing” (Francesca Paris, March 3, 2019, “Rand Paul Says He’ll Vote Against Trump’s Border Emergency, Likely Forcing A Veto,” NPR, https://www.npr.org/2019/03/03/699835862/rand-paul-says-hell-vote-against-trump-s-border-emergency-likely-forcing-a-veto, accessed March 4, 2019).
This is the same Rand Paul who could vote for President Barack Obama’s cabinet nominees and not see any conflict with constitutional principles. “I voted for John Kerry and I agree with nothing he represents, but I voted for him because I thought there was a level of at least basic human decency and honesty that exists there . . . and that the president has the prerogative to determine political appointees . . . I see Hagel and Brennan and [Treasury nominee Jack] Lew kind of the same way. I don’t agree with much of their policies with any of them . . .They’re going to be Obama appointees” (Maggie Haberman, February 25, 2013, “Paul: I’d let Obama make his picks,” Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/rand-paul-obama-has-prerogative-on-appointees-088071, accessed March 4, 2019).
Paul’s charge that President Trump will be using money that has not been allocated to build a border wall is false. The money has already been allocated. The president can use emergency funds that have already been allocated for the Pentagon and the Army Corps of Engineers to build the wall without the express approval of Congress (h/t Mark Levin, The Mark Levin Show, March 4, 2019, http://www.marklevinshow.com/audio-rewind/, accessed March 5, 2019).
The National Emergencies Act was passed by Congress in 1976, over forty years ago. Numerous presidents, both Democrat and Republican, have invoked this act for various reasons over the years, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Over 30 of these emergencies are still in force today. I don’t recall any member of Congress wringing their hands and becoming hysterical about any president invoking the National Emergencies Act until now, including Rand Paul.
Most of our representatives in Congress vote for unconstitutional bills every day, bills that clearly violate our Constitution and the separation of powers, without it ever bothering their consciences. Now they are concerned about an unconstitutional precedent that may be set by President Trump wanting to secure our borders and protect American citizens by using a presidential power granted by Congress???
If the National Emergencies Act is truly dangerous, if it is truly extra-Constitutional or unconstitutional, then Congress needs to pass a bill revoking it so that no president, Democrat or Republican, can use it. That is where the checks and balances of our Constitution come into play. But to vote to prevent President Trump from using a presidential power that was passed by Congress over forty years ago that other presidents have used is beyond hypocritical, especially when the same congressmen and congresswomen have never expressed any concerns before about it being used.
The only reason these representatives in Congress voted for this bill is because they do not like this president. They do not want him to be successful. They do not want him to be re-elected in 2020. These include almost all the Republicans who are voting for this resolution.
It has been said that the Christian army is the only army in the world that leaves its wounded on the battlefield. The same can be said of Republicans. They would rather lose elections, claiming they are defending the Constitution, than to protect our country. What a shame. And what a tragedy for our country.