House votes to over­turn emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion

Un­likely to over­ride promised veto

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

The House de­liv­ered a sear­ing re­buke to Pres­i­dent Trump last week, vot­ing to over­turn his bor­der emer­gency wall build­ing dec­la­ra­tion in a floor show­down Democrats said was noth­ing short of a his­toric stand against tyranny.

The vic­tory, how­ever, could be short-lived.

The vote sends the bill to the Sen­ate, which will vote some­time in March, and ap­pears likely to pass the res­o­lu­tion. But Mr. Trump has vowed a veto, and the 245182 vote shows that while the pres­i­dent couldn’t muster a ma­jor­ity, there is more than enough GOP sup­port to sus­tain his veto.

“This emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion will be up­held,” said House Mi­nor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Repub­li­can who is in charge of GOP vote-count­ing. “Ul­ti­mately, we are go­ing to stand with the pres­i­dent in mak­ing sure we can se­cure this bor­der and con­front this na­tional cri­sis that’s tak­ing lives ev­ery sin­gle day.”

That does not, how­ever, mean the de­bate is pain­less for Mr. Trump, who will likely see an­other loss in the Sen­ate this month, and who will likely have to use his veto for the first time in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

And the pres­i­dent could suf­fer po­lit­i­cal dam­age, hav­ing failed to con­vince most Amer­i­cans of the need for his wall, and fac­ing a bi­par­ti­san re­buke on Capi­tol Hill.

Democrats cast the vote as a con­sti­tu­tional clash be­tween a run­away pres­i­dent and a Con­gress in­tend on de­fend­ing democ­racy.

“Per­haps it’s time for our coun­try to have a civics les­son,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chided her GOP col­leagues, telling them to live up to their oath of of­fice to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“We’re not go­ing to give any pres­i­dent, Demo­crat or Repub­li­can, a blank check to shred the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States,” she said. “We would be delin­quent in our duty as mem­bers of Con­gress if we did not over­turn what the pres­i­dent pro­posed.”

Repub­li­cans, though, said Mr. Trump was act­ing un­der clear emer­gency pow­ers Con­gress granted in the 1976 Na­tional Emer­gen­cies Act.

That law does give the pres­i­dent pow­ers to shift money around in times of emer­gency. The law also gives Con­gress a path to block him, by pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval. That’s what the House did. Thir­teen Repub­li­cans joined Democrats in vot­ing against Mr. Trump. But that’s well short of the 53 House Repub­li­cans who would need to vote with all Democrats to achieve the two-thirds ma­jor­ity re­quired to over­turn a veto.

The mea­sure does, how­ever, go to the Sen­ate, where it must be voted on within 15 busi­ness days.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence met with GOP sen­a­tors over lunch to try to limit de­fec­tions. Sev­eral mem­bers of the Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence have al­ready said they’ll join Democrats to vote against Mr. Trump.

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell said it was a “very ful­some” dis­cus­sion.

“I per­son­ally couldn’t hand­i­cap the out­come at this point,” he said.

In the House, GOP lead­ers cast the vote not as a con­sti­tu­tional clash but rather a state­ment about the sit­u­a­tion on the bor­der. They said that from what they can see, the pres­i­dent is right to de­clare an emer­gency.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, just re­turned from a bor­der de­ploy­ment with the Wis­con­sin Na­tional Guard, and he said the emer­gency isn’t so much im­mi­gra­tion — he said he sup­ports a broad bill to le­gal­ize im­mi­grants liv­ing in the U.S. with­out per­mis­sion — but rather with drugsmug­glers and with “coy­otes” who lead mi­grants on the dan­ger­ous jour­ney north.

“A wall, a bar­rier, is not com­pas­sion­less. I think bor­der se­cu­rity and com­pas­sion ac­tu­ally go hand-in-hand,” Mr. Kinzinger said.

Con­gress last month ap­proved $1.375 bil­lion in new wall money. Mr. Trump signed that bill, but then de­clared the bor­der emer­gency and said he’ll move $3.6 bil­lion from mil­i­tary con­struc­tion money to use for more bor­der wall build­ing. He also said he’ll tap $600 mil­lion from a Trea­sury Depart­ment for­fei­ture fund, and $2.5 bil­lion from a Pentagon drug in­ter­dic­tion fund.

Only the mil­i­tary con­struc­tion money needs the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion.

All told, the ad­min­is­tra­tion en­vi­sions build­ing at least 200 miles of new fenc­ing with the money.

Hypocrisy was rife on both sides in the House vote.

Nearly ev­ery Repub­li­can in the House in 2014 voted to re­buke Pres­i­dent Barack Obama for ex­ec­u­tive over­reach on Oba­macare, in a vote au­tho­riz­ing the House to sue him for spend­ing money Con­gress had specif­i­cally cut out of that year’s bud­get.

Yet last week most of them ap­plauded Mr. Trump for spend­ing be­yond the $1.375 bil­lion Con­gress ap­proved for bor­der wall con­struc­tion.

Mean­while, Democrats, who cheered Mr. Obama when he spent the Oba­macare money over Con­gress’s ob­jec­tions and praised him when he cre­ated a de­por­ta­tion amnesty for “Dream­ers,” im­mi­grants who came to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren, by ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion in 2012, called Mr. Trump a unique threat to democ­racy.

“The Con­gress of the United States needs to have a spine and not lay at the feet of the pres­i­dent of the United States and say ‘What­ever you want, sir!’” thun­dered Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Mary­land Demo­crat.

The 13 Repub­li­cans who joined Mr. Hoyer and other Democrats in buck­ing Mr. Trump were Reps. Justin Amash and Fred Up­ton of Michi­gan, Brian Fitz­patrick of Penn­syl­va­nia, Mike Gal­lagher and F. James Sensen­bren­ner Jr. of Wis­con­sin, Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers of Wash­ing­ton, Will Hurd of Texas, Dusty John­son of South Dakota, Thomas Massie of Ken­tucky, Tom Rooney of Florida, Elise Ste­fanik of New York, and Greg Walden of Ore­gon.

“I’m 100 per­cent in fa­vor of Pres­i­dent Trump’s wall, and to­day’s vote had noth­ing to do with the need to build it,” Ms. McMor­ris Rodgers tweeted. “For the same rea­son I was against Pres­i­dent Obama us­ing his ‘pen and phone,’ I voted to dis­ap­prove of this uni­lat­eral ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.