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Senator Alexander Should Stand with Constitution, Vote to Reject Trump’s Unconstitutional Emergency Declaration Power Grab

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Tennessee – The Senate is poised to join the House and vote for the resolution blocking President Trump’s unconstitutional and unpopular emergency declaration. With leading conservative voices and constitutional scholars joining the majority of both chambers in opposing Trump’s power grab, Senator Lamar Alexander should declare whether he intends to stand with President Trump’s fake emergency declaration or with the constitution and the proper separation of powers?

In Tennessee, observers are highlighting why Senator Alexander should stand with the Constitution and against Trump’s unconstitutional power grab, including the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Theotis Robison Jr. in a piece titled, “Trump’s national emergency is nothing of the sort”:

On the same day that President Donald Trump signed a bill to fund the government through the remainder of this fiscal year, he also declared a national emergency that ostensibly gave him the power to build a wall between the United States and Mexico along our southern border. The funding bill Trump signed — passed overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress — included some money for his nonsensical wall. Just not as much as he had demanded. But in a fit of arrogance befitting a childish temper tantrum, Trump declared his phony “emergency” despite all evidence to the contrary.

Trump sycophants like Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the tea party caucus in the House, claimed that Congress refused to act on Trump’s funding demand. That is wrong. Congress did act. They provided $1.38 billion for a portion of the wall, but they refused to give him the $5.7 billion he had demanded. The Trump administration cried foul. But as author Don Winslow said, “The Trump administration is like the Corleones — except everyone is Fredo.”

Declaring a national emergency should serve to mobilize the country, but a majority — especially those who live along the southern border — know that an emergency there does not exist. Why is it that support for Trump’s wall decreases the closer you get to the border? A higher percentage of support for the wall can be found in North Dakota than in Texas. Like a carnival barker, Trump claims a wall is needed to stop illegal immigration, crime, and to halt the flow of illegal drugs. Based on this “logic,” his wall would reduce these acts to zero.

Data produced by his own administration does not support Trump’s conclusions. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 415,517 undocumented entrants were stopped at the southern border in 2017. Compare that number to the more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants — most from Canada — in the country who have overstayed their visas. Indeed, during the first six months of 2018, seven individuals with suspected ties to terrorist groups were taken into custody at our southern border. That number pales in comparison to the 41 taken into custody crossing our northern border.  A wall across our northern border, anyone? Perhaps that’s because most Canadians look like the majority of Americans.

…Trump’s declaration of a national emergency when none exists was solely for the purpose of bypassing Congress to give himself a campaign issue. There are those who will be with him regardless of the facts. The “never abandon Trump” crowd will never leave him when he abandons core conservative principles like limited government, fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. That is not why they voted for him. Most voted for him because he played to their racist bigotry and their sexism. And he delivers for them daily.  

Fourteen Republican senators, including Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, have said that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency is a bad idea. House Democrats will soon pass a resolution to rescind this declared emergency. The Senate will be required to vote on it. It will be interesting to see how they vote. They can put a stop to this nonsense — or they can make a Faustian bargain with Trump that will spell their doom in 2020.

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.

In announcing his intention to vote for the resolution against President Trump’s declaration, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) detailed his reasons in an op-ed on the Fox News website, titled “I support President Trump, but I can’t support this National Emergency Declaration.

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.