Senator Rand Paul indicated he will vote to terminate President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration on Sunday. This continues a story that seems to want no resolution.
Weeks ago, the seed to this news piece started this way:
One 35-day partial government shutdown and almost three weeks later, the debate over a statistically tiny amount of money in the US budget for the building of a border wall drags on with no solution. On February 15th, if there is no agreement that is to President Trump’s satisfaction, the government will once again descend into a partial shutdown.
And on February 15th, the President signed a continuing resolution to keep the government open through the rest of the fiscal year. This CR gave sharply limited authority of funds with regards to the border wall. This prompted the President to take it a step farther and declare a National Emergency.
This is because very few people in the US government actually desire a solution to close and secure the American-Mexican border. In fact, what we see is a government that is largely aligned against the will of its citizens.
President Trump has made repeated statements and speeches in which he outlines a fair array of facts concerning the problems experienced in the US by illegal border crossings of both people and controlled substances.
However, the issue of border security remains something that Congress only supports with words. We saw this in action both last week and the week before with the Democrat led House of Representatives voting 245-182 to terminate the National Emergency declaration. While this was to be expected in the House, on March 3rd, libertarian Senator Rand Paul, a known strong supporter of President Trump, nonetheless penned an Op-Ed piece on Fox News in which he said he planned to also vote against the National Emergency in the Republican-led Senate (emphasis added):
In September of 2014, I had these words to say: “The president acts like he’s a king. He ignores the Constitution. He arrogantly says, ‘If Congress will not act, then I must.’
Donald J. Trump agreed with me when he said in November 2014 that President Barack Obama couldn’t make a deal on immigration so “now he has to use executive action, and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overridden easily by the Supreme Court.”I would literally lose my political soul if I decided to treat President Trump different than President Obama. (Although, I’ll note, not one Democrat criticized Obama for his executive orders.)
I support President Trump. I supported his fight to get funding for the wall from Republicans and Democrats alike, and I share his view that we need more and better border security.
However, I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate.
Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate. We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power…
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. With regard to the Constitution, the Supreme Court made it very clear in Youngstown Steel in 1952, in a case that is being closely reexamined in the discussion of executive power. In Youngstown, the Court ruled that there are three kinds of executive order: orders that carry out an expressly voiced congressional position, orders where Congress’ will is unclear, and, finally, orders clearly opposed to the will of Congress.
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.
Some are attempting to say that there isn’t a good analogy between President Obama’s orders or the Youngstown case. I disagree. Not only are the issues similar, but I think Youngstown Steel implications are even more profound in the case of emergency appropriations. We spent the last two months debating how much money should be spent on a wall, and Congress came to a clear conclusion: $1.3 billion. Without question, the president’s order for more wall money contradicts the will of Congress and will, in all likelihood, be struck down by the Supreme Court.
In fact, I think the president’s own picks to the Supreme Court may rebuke him on this.
Regardless, 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.
This statement by Rand Paul is extremely – and painfully – fair. It marks not the actions of a liberal but of someone who is trying to do things truly “by the book.” He cannot be faulted for this.
But his “Nay” is very poorly placed because it comes in the context of a Congress that is full of people far less committed to the vision of America and its sovereignty than he or the President are. One of the reasons stated for lax border security is that cutting off illegal immigration also cuts off very cheap labor for several industries. Some of those industry leaders donate lavishly to political campaigns, ergo, corruption.
Rand Paul, in trying to fight for what is right by the letter of the law, may be correct, but in the short term it appears to exacerbate the problem of the porous US-Mexico border.
President Trump is trying to do the right thing in the company of a Congress who does not want this, for various reasons. Some of it is because some Congressmen and women are petty, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer being the crabby National Grandparents in this aspect. But add to the “resist Trump because he is Trump” lobby those people who gain from illegal immigration in the short term, and those like the new socialist crop of Congressional members who are ready to change the very nature of the United States into something like their cannabis-induced dream of Sweden (which didn’t even work in Sweden!) and we see that border security is every bit the uphill climb that President Trump has shown it to be.
The government shutdown did one very good thing: It got the American focus on the border and some opinions on the matter moved – at least among the American people.
But since when did our representatives and senators really represent us, the American people?
It has been a long, long time.