In a somewhat surprising turn, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) voted no on blocking President Trump from declaring an emergency on the border. Mr. Sasse can hardly be called a Trump supporter. In fact, he’s one of a handful of Republicans who has never been scared to oppose the President on policy. That makes his vote and reasoning all the more impactful in my view.
Here’s his statement.
Sasse's statement pic.twitter.com/zRmzbUTKdl
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) March 14, 2019
This is something I’ve been arguing for a while and I’m glad someone else far more important than myself is articulating it.
Trump is exercising authority given to him by Congress. Despite the hysterical protestations, he is not doing something unconstitutional. He is not being an autocrat (as David French asserted in his questionable analysis). Rather, he’s doing something he has the legal right to do as given to him by the legal act of Congressional legislation.
You might say he shouldn’t be able to do that. Then you need to reform the NEA itself. One of the most disturbing aspects of Trump’s Presidency is the court system’s penchant for applying special rules to him. Some jokingly call it “Trump law.” Things that former Presidents did suddenly become unconstitutional with the stroke of a pen by a partisan judge. For example, it is completely nonsensical for a judge to assert that Obama had the constitutional right to create DACA (he didn’t) but that Trump has no right to put an end to it (he does). Such discrepancies are an awful, unfair way for our government to operate and it undermines the power held by voters in choosing their representatives.
Congress is now trying to do the same thing, arbitrarily applying a standard because they dislike something the President is doing. Did Congress make a mistake abdicating their power over emergencies? Perhaps, but the way you remedy that is by taking it back. Yet, Democrats had no interest in doing that because they want to preserve the same power for themselves the next time there is a Democratic President. The Democratic caucus collectively scoffed at Mike Lee’s good faith attempt to reform the NEA and reign in not only Trump, but all future Presidents from exerting too much power within the executive branch. Their unwillingness to do that should tell you all you need to know about their true motivations.
While 12 Republicans voted yes today on singling out Trump’s declaration because their efforts at an alternative reform bill failed, I think that was the wrong decision. The ends can not justify the means. If you felt the NEA was the issue until that push failed, deciding that you are going to apply different standards to President Trump to get where you want is not right answer.
Sen. Sasse recognized that and he voted no because he didn’t want to be apart of pushing a bad solution conjured up by Nancy Pelosi for purely political, not principled, reasons. Compare that to Sen. Romney’s convoluted reasoning.
“I am seriously concerned that overreach by the executive branch is an invitation for further expansion and abuse by future presidents. … Where Congress has enacted a specific policy to consent to an emergency declaration would be both inconsistent with my beliefs and contrary to my oath to defend the Constitution,” Romney added.
In reality, Romney’s vote does absolutely nothing to stop future Presidents from abusing their authority because his vote did absolutely nothing to enact any limits on future Presidents. The Democrats are specifically keeping that power on tap for them to abuse the next go around and Romney thinks a press release is going to stop them? He’s not defending the constitution. He’s simply punting on the actual issue. Whereas Romney spits out some platitudes for public plaudits, Sasse isn’t afraid to cut to the heart of the matter and demand the proper action. Congressional members are often guilty of the type of obfuscating seen by Romney here, screaming “unconstitutional,” when in reality it’s their weakness to take back power they willingly gave up that is the problem.
If Congress truly cares about reigning in executive power, then they will all get behind Sasse’s push to narrow the NEA. If they don’t do so, then you can be assured that their concern is simply with sniping at Trump and not the U.S. Constitution.
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