In order to restore the primacy of the separation of powers, Congressional Republicans should block Trump’s emergency declaration. Regardless of the legality of his decision, it should have never have happened and its failure will set an important precedent for future presidencies.
At the end of the shutdown, Democrats agreed to allocate approximately $1.3 billion for the expressed purpose of building a reinforced fence along the US-Mexico border. It was far short of Trump’s desired $5.7 billion, and he has since then declared an emergency at the border, thereby opening up additional funds with dubious legal justification. The Senate votes later today on whether or not this emergency declaration should be allowed to stand.
Admittedly, Democrats remain intractable in their refusal to direct any money towards a wall. The amount Trump wants to spend on a wall is a paltry sum compared to the $3.6 trillion dollars the government spends every year. Regarding Democrat’s questions of its efficacy, no doubt a reformed immigration process and other forms of surveillance have more utility than a wall but a secured border can relieve stress on immigration enforcement and thus acts as an important part in the immigration process as a whole.
Congressional Democrats are obstinate but they aren’t to blame; Trump is. For two years, he had control of both the House and Senate. During that time, he spent energy on other important goals but it was a mistake to wait until he lost his majority in Congress to try to build the icon of his campaign chants.
That dependence upon Congress to build a wall is the fundamental question in this controversy. The legislative body of the United States is Congress. It is up to Congress to craft new laws. It is up to Congress to be the final authority in budgets. It is up to the President to block legislation and cast a different vision. The executive branch is not, however, to be a legislative body.
Obama famously said that “if Congress won’t act, I will.” He had the same issue. He passed large portions of the DACA legislation without the consent of Congress, entered the Paris Climate accord without the consent of Congress, and, like many before him, issued a slew of constitutionally dubious executive orders to more or less legislate without the consent of Congress. In every case, it was and, in Trump’s case, now will be an act of executive overreach.
Trump had his chance to pass legislation to build his border wall. Democrats are incorrect in their decision to block his funds congressionally but they have every right to, nonetheless. If Trump cannot get the funds he wants from Congress, his only recourse is to appeal to the American people in the next election. If Republicans have any respect for the separation of powers, if they have any commitment to small government ideals, if they are serious in their criticisms of Obama for executive overreach, then they will join the vote to block Trump later today.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.