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The national emergency this country faces is not at the southern border, but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the capital city. Last Friday, at the press conference where he declared his national emergency–the one he admitted was not even necessary to declare–President Donald Trump continued to show his incapacity to take the reins of this country, and his disdain for the U.S. Constitution and all its institutions.
The press conference on Friday was, in a word, disturbing. Trump jumped from topic to topic even though they had nothing to do with the reason he called the press conference in the first place. He warned that we are being “invaded” and annihilated by millions of undocumented immigrants, and that is why he had to declare a national emergency to build the wall–to protect us from all the bad out to get us, since Congress wouldn’t give him the money he asked for to build it.
At the same time, he affirmed that he “didn’t have to do this” (declare a national emergency), and said that he did it in order to speed up construction of the wall, while acknowledging the extensive and complex legal process his action sparked–and the barrage of lawsuits to stop it, meaning this issue is almost certain to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, a coalition of 16 states sued the Trump administration over his emergency declaration arguing that he is usurping the power of Congress to control spending.
When a reporter reminded him that statistics, provided by his own administration, affirm that unauthorized crossings are at their lowest levels and suggest there is no emergency to be declared at the southern border, much less reason to go around Congress and poach funding destined for other programs, including the military, Trump responded with a diatribe completely disconnected from reality that in prior times would have raised alarm bells about this man’s capacity to govern. These days, it seems we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this is just another one of Trump’s little insanities and we should move on.
Nevertheless, the question is what will Congress do–and especially what will the Republicans in Congress do who, two years into this chaotic presidency, continue to complain about the president’s excesses, but at the moment of truth continue to act like ostriches with their heads in the ground, afraid to confront him.
The House of Representatives, under Democratic control, already announced its plan to present a resolution anuling Trump’s “national emergency” declaration. After that passes, the Senate–which is controlled by Republicans–will have 18 days to consider it.
The question is, will those Republicans confront Trump or, do as they have done until now, and play the long game? Even more critical, will the resolution unite two-thirds of the vote in both chambers in order to overcome a presidential veto?
These days, nothing is surprising. Republicans have excused all of Trump’s excesses in exchange for a pair of conservative nominees to the Supreme Court, filling vacant judicial seats in the lower courts with conservative judges, and cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations.
When President Barack Obama used executive action to stop the deportation of Dreamers, and when he wanted to extend the same protection to their parents, it didn’t take long for Republicans to attack him because, according to them, he usurped the role of Congress and violated the Constitution.
These same Republicans now stay silent or complain quietly, but none to this date have had the guts to confront Trump.
Supposing that a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020, we’ll see what Republicans will say to this person if she decides to declare a national emergency over issues that they have not wanted to take up, such as climate change or gun control.
In fact, the same day that Trump declared his false emergency at the border, a gunman took five more lives at a factory in Aurora, Illinois.
With this emergency declaration, Trump is only trying to distract attention from the fact that the latest government funding bill gives less money for his wall than the measure he refused to sign last year, which resulted in a 35-day government shutdown.
To satisfy his battered ego, he declared a false national emergency. What is he capable of, if he sees his presidency in danger? Invent reasons to involve us in a war?
Anything is possible with Trump, whose presidency is the real national emergency this country faces.