UPDATE: The House votes, as expected, to oppose Trump’s emergency declaration. From the Washington Post:
The House on Tuesday passed a resolution to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, as majority Democrats painted an apocalyptic portrait of a lawless chief executive out to gut the Constitution.
The 245-182 tally was mostly along party lines, with 13 Republicans defecting to side with Democrats on a vote that effectively became a test of GOP loyalty to Trump. Despite their frequent complaints of executive overreach during the Obama administration, most Republicans fell in line with Trump’s decision to try to circumvent Congress to get billions of dollars for his border wall. As a result the vote fell well short of the two-thirds majority that would be required to overcome Trump’s threatened veto.
Democrats argued that Trump’s claim of a crisis at the border was baseless, and that he was embarking on the road to dictatorship by unilaterally declaring an emergency to try to get money from U.S. taxpayers to fulfill an unpopular campaign promise.
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote today on a measure opposing President Trump’s “emergency declaration” so that he can build himself a big ‘ol wall at the Mexico border. The measure is widely expected to be approved by the House (approval means rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration), which means that the real drama will take place in the Senate.
As the Washington Post reports:
Partisans on both sides unleashed sharp new rhetoric ahead of Tuesday’s vote on a Democratic-authored resolution that would nullify President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. Congress has never before sought to cancel a national emergency declared by the president since passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976. [Pols emphasis]…
…While Democrats tried to focus on the constitutional issues at stake in Trump using an emergency declaration to get border-wall money denied by Congress, Republicans trained their arguments on what they called dire conditions along the border that necessitated Trump’s move.
As the Post story notes, the Democratic-led House should have little trouble passing the resolution; under the National Emergencies Act, the Senate is then required to hold a vote on the measure within the next two weeks. Assuming that all Senate Democrats vote in favor of the proposal, it would only take four Republican votes to advance the measure to the President’s desk. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have signaled that they will vote YES, and so will Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. If you’re doing the math at home, one more Republican vote will move the measure forward.
Tillis laid out his argument in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post in which he brings up his opposition to President Obama’s use of emergency declarations:
It is my responsibility to be a steward of the Article I branch, to preserve the separation of powers and to curb the kind of executive overreach that Congress has allowed to fester for the better part of the past century. I stood by that principle during the Obama administration, and I stand by it now.
Conservatives rightfully cried foul when President Barack Obama used executive action to completely bypass Congress and unilaterally provide deferred action to undocumented adults who had knowingly violated the nation’s immigration laws. Some prominent Republicans went so far as to proclaim that Obama was acting more like an “emperor” or “king” than a president.
There is no intellectual honesty in now turning around and arguing that there’s an imaginary asterisk attached to executive overreach — that it’s acceptable for my party but not thy party. [Pols emphasis]
Ouch. That last line is particularly relevant for Coloradans, because Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has backed himself into the same corner. Take a look at what Gardner said in December 2014 in response to Obama’s executive order on DACA. From Fox 31 News:
Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations…
…Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall.
“Recently, the President issued an executive order that circumvented Congress and asserted power he previously said he doesn’t have,” Gardner said in the statement. “Today the House voted on a bill to condemn the President’s circumvention of Congress.
If we go by Sen. Tillis’ definition of “intellectual dishonesty,” then Sen. Gardner cannot possibly vote against this measure. Yet…he might.
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) February 26, 2019
As we’ve noted before in this space, Gardner voiced his opposition to an “emergency declaration” on the very same day that Trump issued the order; Gardner told Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio that he had spoken to Trump directly and urged him NOT to issue an emergency declaration. After Trump went ahead and issued the order anyway, Gardner started backpedaling, stating that he needed time to “study” the President’s decision.
Colorado political reporters have since been working hard to get some sort of clarification from Gardner on where he stands, but Gardner isn’t returning phone calls. Will Gardner stick with his original stance against Trump’s “emergency declaration,” or will he once again wilt in the face of pressure from the President?
President Trump has promised to veto the measure if it makes it to his desk. Congress probably doesn’t have enough votes to override a Presidential veto, but Gardner may well be the deciding vote on whether or not we even have that discussion. He can’t waffle his way out of this one.