President Donald Trump has vetoed the “disapproval resolution” legislation recently passed to block his declaration of a National Emergency over the porous state of the southern border. While this was not a surprising outcome for those who have been awake these past two years, the reactions from both Republicans and Democrats have an element of shock about them. Is it possible that the anti-Trump brigade assumed the president would roll over? Or are they hoping to frame the argument in such a way that this decision becomes, in the public’s view, a bigger issue than mass illegal immigration?
When political careerists get an idea in their minds, especially one that has some support from their target voter base, they react like a dog with a bone – unable to let it go or to cast their attention elsewhere. It seems that with the issue of border funding they have found something to latch on to, and are either too focused or too scared to move into new territory.
This may turn out to be an issue that the Democrats win, but at the cost of alienating the electorate.
“Today I am vetoing this resolution … Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it.”
These words from the president have created a tsunami of reaction that threatens to wash the blue wave of Democrat support back into the ocean. He has pushed them to the point where they are willing to circumvent the Constitution – although it seems they are getting ready for a debate in which each side will accuse the other of unconstitutional conduct.
Much media time will be taken up with pundits and “experts” discussing the legality and likely legal outcomes of Trump’s decision. Senior Democrats have already made plans to return to the Senate floor on March 26 to try and get the two-thirds majority necessary for terminating the emergency declaration. Although 12 Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the president, passing the measure by 59-41, it will be all but impossible to gain those last few votes to nullify Trump’s declaration. And here is where the Democrat plan falls short.
Paths Around the Constitution
By pushing for a two-thirds vote, Democrats are acknowledging that there exists a constitutional legal procedure that allows the president to declare this emergency, and that there is an established legal framework for overturning it. If they fail to gain the threshold – which they likely will – they then seek to have the courts do their work for them. As the author of the disapproval resolution, Joaquin Castro (D-TX), said:
“Any veto override is difficult, but we keep fighting. Both chambers of Congress — one Republican and one Democrat — are on record to terminate the President’s emergency declaration … This will provide significant evidence for the courts as they review lawsuits.
We will also continue working in Congress to find avenues to terminate the emergency declaration — whether it be through appropriations or other processes.
Think about it: both chambers of Congress, one Democratic and one Republican, voted to terminate the President’s emergency declaration … As the courts review this, that will be a significant legal fact.”
And here is the problem with Castro’s analysis: In attempting to get a two-thirds majority to undo the president’s decision, he and his party will have acknowledged that there is a method defined in law for doing so and that any other method – including trying to use the courts – is therefore outside the Constitution. That is the “significant legal fact” that he has overlooked.
And the Rest Follow
Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has accused the president of trampling “all over the Constitution.” He said in a statement:
“It is no surprise that the president holds the rule of law and our Constitution in minimal regard. There is no emergency; Congress has refused to fund his wall multiple times; Mexico won’t pay for it; and a bipartisan majority in both chambers just voted to terminate his fake emergency.
The point of defending the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers put so exquisitely into our government? We’ve got to defend it ten times even if they knock it down in hopes of winning the 11th.”
But Schumer fails to see – or admit – that the “checks and balances” are in place and working just fine. If he can convince more Republicans to side with him and reach the hallowed two-thirds majority, then the Constitution remains intact. If he can’t, then the National Emergency continues and, once again, the Constitution remains intact.
In fact, the only affront to the rule of law and the Constitution would be if, after failing to win his majority on the 26th, he then decides to follow Rep. Castro down the legal rabbit hole of challenging in courts.
The already-divided left of American politics is faced with a choice: Spend the next two years fighting one battle or frame themselves as a strong and stable opposition with plans to lead the country forward. It appears they can’t quite manage both.
President Trump has the right to declare a national emergency; Congress has the right to challenge it. As long as all parties act within the scope of the Constitution, then the system works just fine. It is when bad actors seek to game the system through dishonest media coverage and frivolous court cases that the Republic suffers. If you’re not willing to play by the rules, you shouldn’t be playing at all.