The latest news is that our beloved president will indeed sign the bipartisan budget bill that will avert yet another government shutdown. Mich McConnell just announced this on the Senate floor.
Isn’t that just great?
That is the good news. But there is bad news as well. Our beloved president, frightened that signing such a bill will enrage his core group of wingnut supporters, will declare a national emergency in order to free up funding to build his border wall.
BTW, that is the border wall that just a day or so ago, our beloved president said was almost finished.
And there is more! Mitch McConnell said that he supports the president’s decision to declare a national emergency. This might seem peculiar in that the same Mitch McConnell sat on his butt in the Senate for two years doing nothing about border security before the midterm elections. In other words, he did not see any emergency back then. But he sure sees one now! And it is caused by the dems winning a majority in the House!
What is going on? It is painfully simple. Painfully so because yet again we see evidence that one of the two great political parties in the US has lost its sense of reality. Power games are more important to them than accountability.
The reality is that there is no national emergency on the Mexican border. Just ask people who live there. Or if there is any emergency, it is one created by Trump immigration policies that use extreme measures to harass and expel people, including but not limited to separating parents from their kids. That is a human rights emergency, not an immigration emergency or a security emergency. And building a wall on the border will not fix that emergency. Why not? Because that emergency is the assault by the president and his Republican supporters on fundamental values that hold the nation together. Lincoln called these the “better angels of our nature”.
Lincoln said that in his first inaugural address — at the close of his speech. The civil war had not yet started but it was about to. Lincoln said
I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature
The the chorus of union depends on the better angels of our nature. We forget that at our peril.
Strap on your helmet because Trump’s impending declaration will prompt yet more litigation.
Democrats could mount a lawsuit against the White House using logic similar to that used by House Republicans in a 2015 lawsuit against the Obama administration, when officials attempted to use federal funds that had not been approved by Congress to pay out insurers under the Affordable Care Act. In that case, a federal judge ruled that Republicans had the grounds to sue the White House because its efforts infringed on Congress’s power of the purse.
Can the president declare a national emergency when there are no facts to support the declaration and to the contrary, based on his own words, the situation is under control?
Here is a quick peek at the legal issues that Trump will face if he goes forward.
And here are the five ways that the emergency declaration might be quashed either by Congressional action or litigation.
Stay tuned on that one, though I hear that it is highly likely that courts will not allow Trump to get away with this.
And should we care that if Trump gets away with this, he will divert funds needed to help people recover from real disasters (like the California fires) to address his fantasy crisis? Should we care that it would be a gross usurpation of power by the president from Congress? Does that sound even remotely like a good idea?
Whether you are a conservative or progressive or somewhere in between, you have to scratch your head and wonder whether folks like Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell are aware that they are playing with fire. Grasping for power solely for the sake of gaining more power leads to disaster in the end for all concerned.
Quick Follow up: Donald Trump has now gone ahead and declared a national emergency over the lack of funding for a border wall. After listening to comments on this, I find it highly unlikely that this declaration will have any effect. First,as Rachel Maddow points out, it is possible that Congress may act to block the declaration from going into effect. Second, there is no legal precedent or authority for a president to declare a national emergency against the express wishes of Congress. To the contrary, the Line Item Veto Case found that the president can only sign or veto laws – he cannot do anything to change them In this case, Congress has expressly denied that authority to Trump. There are more reasons why this is not going anywhere. But isn’t that enough?
The key point is this. Trump can say what he wants. But Mitch McConnell and Republicans in the Senate have decided to break from “Trump loyalism”. You might say that they have FINALLY decided. Why? Because they fear that sticking to Trump will cost them their seats. This means Donald rump is likely to suffer more setbacks in his dealings with Congress. It may even mean that if the Mueller Report is damning, Congress might vote to impeach and convict.
Stay tuned on that one.