That Sound You Hear? GOP Principles Crumbling Under the Weight of Trump
As the Washington Post reports, Republican Senators are working with the Trump Administration on legislation “that tries to claw back some emergency powers to Congress,” noting that such a bill “would give Republicans who are uneasy about the constitutionality of the Feb. 15 declaration — yet nervous about publicly rebuking Trump — some political cover to side with the president.” The important phrase there is “political cover.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said:
It is so predictable. Senate Republicans who proclaim their love for the Constitution are once again set to capitulate to Trump on immigration, apparently more afraid of angry presidential tweets and a backlash from Tucker Carlson fans than they are supportive of the Constitution. How else do you explain their transparent plans to draft a new bill? The fact is that a majority of Senate Republicans are going to vote to cut military spending in their states and take property from landowners on the border in order to prevent our fragile-egoed President from suffering a defeat in the Senate. The new bill they are working on is a fig leaf to give some of them a fake excuse to justify supporting Trump’s fake emergency power grab.
Remember the “brave” recent op-ed from Senator Thom Tillis, in which he wrote, “As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress”? Or the highfalutin language of Senator Rand Paul’s recent Fox News op-ed, when he wrote, “I must vote how my principles dictate. My oath is to the Constitution, not to any man or political party”? Wow. Such grandiose stuff.
Sharry added: “We’ll see how they end up voting on the emergency declaration resolution or if they end up relying on the optics of a toothless bill to pretend that they are still standing on their supposed principles.”
In a must-read column that captures the depressing dynamics we are witnessing, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes, “This is how submissive Republicans have become to Trump,” noting:
This is how far Republicans will go in submissiveness to President Trump: They will vote to surrender military spending projects in their own home states and districts to avoid displeasing him.
A majority of Republicans in the Senate will vote to do just that this week. In upholding Trump’s emergency declaration, they are giving him blanket authority to take $3.6 billion from any of nearly 400 already approved military construction projects of his choosing in 43 states — and to spend it on a border wall. House Republicans already voted to put their districts’ military spending projects on the block.
…Now we see the party of limited government assenting to executive overreach — potentially at the expense of their own constituents. In the House, all but 13 Republicans did so.
…Maybe Trump really convinced them of the need to pilfer from the military in support of an emergency declaration that the president himself said was unnecessary. More likely, they are frightened of crossing a man who warns that those who do “put themselves at great jeopardy.” Either way, it’s not that these lawmakers are ignoring their constituents — it’s that they are heeding a constituency of one.