March 15, 2019

Senate Votes on National Emergency

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Thursday, the Senate voted “59-41 to terminate the president’s emergency declaration on what Trump describes as a national security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, but the final tally fell short of the required 2/3 needed to override a veto.” Twelve Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of termination. Axios

This is separate from the ongoing lawsuit filed by several states against the declaration. AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is accusing Republican senators of hypocrisy for siding with Trump’s power grab.

“Hypocrisy is a term often bandied about too easily. But it was crystallized in a single moment Thursday, when 41 Republican senators voted to surrender their legislative authority to an overreaching president… [The Republican senators] who voted to safeguard Trump's power grab [will not] have any credibility to complain when a future Democratic president invokes emergency powers on, say, gun violence or climate change.”
Editorial Board, USA Today

“The issue here isn’t whether there are big problems at the border. The issue is that Congress considered them and decided not to address them the way Trump wanted, so he used emergency powers to reverse that decision. That’s the precedent being set here, and it’s one Congress ignores at its peril.”
Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times

“A growing number of Senate Republicans, Trump’s biggest check against congressional Democrats, have grown uneasy with the president’s executive actions both in diplomacy and in domestic politics…

“[But] nationally, 90 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. And the president made clear that votes against him were an act of betrayal… There’s no way to win reelection if you don’t first win the GOP primary, so even Republicans who could face difficult general elections lined up behind Trump rather than risk his wrath.”
Paul Kane, Washington Post

“Senators from purple states stuck with Trump as colleagues with an easier path to re-election voted against him. That’s kind of strange… Usually it would be the vulnerable politicians who act as moderates, and those with safe seats who are comfortable with ideological extremism… Whether their political calculation is correct or not, Republican politicians have decided that the threats that matter are the ones coming from the Trumpier portions of their own party.”
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

And yet “this week has provided welcome flashes of independence from at least a few Republican lawmakers… the Senate Republicans’ rebuke of the president shows that his chronic contempt for democratic norms — and for the Constitution — has become too much to stomach for at least some in his party.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Some posit that “the real crisis at the border [is] that asylum seekers and other immigrants who follow U.S. laws are being wrongly persecuted

“The Trump administration’s policy of ‘metering’ asylum applications at the border — only letting in only a small number of migrants in each day — has created confusion and months-long waiting periods at ports of entry, despite the fact that denying individuals the right to apply for asylum is a violation of international human rights law. The extensive backup at ports of entry has caused desperate Central American families to cross between ports of entry instead, which has contributed to the spike in ‘illegal’ border crossings.”
Rebekah Entralgo, ThinkProgress

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of terminating the declaration, arguing that it was a usurpation of Congress’s authority over spending.

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of terminating the declaration, arguing that it was a usurpation of Congress’s authority over spending.

“The problem with the emergency declaration is that, even if it’s technically legal… it is clearly pretextual and a way to do an end run around the congressional spending power. The president himself in his press conference announcing the emergency said that he didn’t have to do it, but that he wanted to build new fencing more quickly than he could without the declaration.”
The Editors, National Review

“The border certainly needs better enforcement. It could use more wall. But it's up to Congress, not the president, to appropriate money for the wall… The Left loves to declare that conservative talk of principles is a con and a cover story for self-serving ends. Votes like this lend credence to the charge. We applaud the dozen Republicans who voted for the resolution. We hope Congress’ next step is to pass a bipartisan bill curbing presidential emergency powers.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“The President has set terrible precedent with his emergency declaration. He negotiated with Congress, got nothing, so decided to go this route. To allow a president to exercise this power after failing in negotiations just sets a precedent for future Democrat presidents to do the same… if this President can declare an emergency for this border dispute, a future president could do the same for climate change.”
Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

Many are asking, “Where were Mr. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when President Obama violated the separation of powers again and again to achieve his policy goals? Senate Democrats gave Mr. Obama a blank check on recess appointments, environmental and financial regulation, ObamaCare spending without appropriations, work permits for illegal immigrants, and much more. The courts later rebuked Mr. Obama on all of them. The GOP opposition is more sincere and significant because it comes at some political cost… [But] Mr. Trump should be careful not to test the limits of GOP Senate loyalty.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Politicians face a difficult decision when a president abuses his powers to achieve something their party wants to achieve. Under Obama that was [DACA] for illegal immigrants; under Trump it’s an emergency declaration to build the wall. Democrats were pretty much silent about Obama’s abuses… Only four (out of 186 voting) [in the House] supported killing it via legislation, and the Democratic Senate did not even vote on the bill. By contrast, 13 out of 195 voting Republicans in the House sided against the emergency declaration, and an impressive twelve of 53 Republican senators voted that way as well.”
Robert Verbruggen, National Review

Supporters of the President argue that “I'm sympathetic to arguments that the National Emergencies Act is too broad and gives the executive branch too much power. That's a reasonable debate to have… But in the meantime, don't pretend we didn't delegate all these powers, or that it's lawless for the executive to use laws we passed, just because you deplore him.”
Tom Cotton,

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Painting sow Pigcasso hogs the limelight at South Africa farm.

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.