Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has announced his intention to vote for the resolution blocking President Trump’s unconstitutional and unpopular emergency declaration. The news means that the Senate will have the necessary votes to join the House in passing the resolution and issuing a sharp rebuke to Trump’s entirely fake national emergency.
The development also amps up pressure on other Senate Republicans to do the right thing and join their colleagues in opposing President Trump’s power grab. As a Washington Post editorial stated this weekend, “the Senate must decide whether it will defend its prerogatives from this wayward White House … For the good of the country — and out of institutional self-respect — senators should reject Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration.”
Senator Paul detailed his plans in an op-ed on the Fox News website, titled “I support President Trump, but I can’t support this National Emergency Declaration.” The piece explores his rationale and in the process lays down a marker for other supposed “constitutional conservatives” in the Senate Republican caucus. Among the key excerpts:
There are really two questions involved in the decision about emergency funding. First, does statutory law allow for the president’s emergency orders, and, second, does the Constitution permit these emergency orders? As far as the statute goes, the answer is maybe — although no president has previously used emergency powers to spend money denied by Congress, and it was clearly not intended to do that.
But there is a much larger question: the question of whether or not this power and therefore this action are constitutional.
…To my mind, like it or not, we had this conversation. In fact, the government was shut down in a public battle over how much money would be spent on the wall and border security. It ended with a deal that Congress passed and the president signed into law, thus determining the amount.
Congress clearly expressed its will not to spend more than $1.3 billion and to restrict how much of that money could go to barriers. Therefore, President Trump’s emergency order is clearly in opposition to the will of Congress.
Moreover, the broad principle of separation of powers in the Constitution delegates the power of the purse to Congress. This turns that principle on its head.
…I must vote how my principles dictate. My oath is to the Constitution, not to any man or political party. I stand with the president often, and I do so with a loud voice. Today, I think he’s wrong, not on policy, but in seeking to expand the powers of the presidency beyond their constitutional limits. I understand his frustration. Dealing with Congress can be pretty difficult sometimes. But Congress appropriates money, and his only constitutional recourse, if he does not like the amount they appropriate, is to veto the bill.