First, the good news: President Donald Trump is planning to sign a bipartisan spending measure from Congress to keep the federal government open.
Now, the bad news: Because the spending measure doesn’t include funding of billions of dollars for additional construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump has also signaled that he intends to declare a “national emergency” in order to get the funds he needs.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon that the president would be making such a declaration after signing the spending bill. The White House corroborated McConnell in a statement put out by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders soon after.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” Sanders said, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
A national emergency declaration is an abuse of power, plain and simple. It violates the intent of the statutes and the plan language of the relevant law. Congress and the courts must check the president: https://t.co/brUE5YP8cZ
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 14, 2019
There are huge problems with the Trump administration deciding to declare a national emergency to build the wall. For starters, it creates an incredibly dangerous precedent, of the commander-in-chief (in this administration and in future ones) taking measures into their own hands if they don’t get what they want from Congress.
If we allow Trump to use national emergency powers on an issue like the border wall, where no real emergency actually exists (illegal border crossings have been trending downward for years), what will he attempt to do in the future? Given Trump’s erratic behavior, there’s no question that, if he’s successful in bypassing Congress this time around, he’ll try to do so again and again in the remaining time he’s in office.
There is absolutely no need at this time to extend the southern border wall, and any additional spending in order to do so would waste billions of taxpayer dollars for little reason other than to placate Trump’s ego.
Besides the fact that there isn’t a real crisis at the border (except the one that exists within Trump’s world of make-believe), the fact that it took the president so long to declare an emergency in the first place should also be a sign that it’s fabricated. Trump started musing about the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border in early January, after which he started openly saying he had the right to declare an emergency if he wanted to.
Then, more than a month afterward, through several weeks of a government shutdown, he did…nothing. Yes, he kept talking-up the idea of a national emergency, but if it were truly a crisis, you would think action would have been taken by now.
By the mere fact that he hasn’t yet taken any steps to address the supposed crisis, and is only doing so now that a spending bill (without the nearly $6 billion included for his wall he wanted) has made its way to his desk, Trump demonstrates that the emergency he’s been trying to sell us on isn’t real.
Hopefully, Trump’s national emergency declaration — if he does indeed move forward with it — will be challenged in the courts and deemed unconstitutional. Congress, as the “Article One” branch of the federal government, also ought to take steps to stand up to Trump’s make-believe crisis.
This kind of action by the president cannot be allowed to stand…because if it does, it could mean the beginning of the end of our democracy.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.