National Emergency. Hmmm

President Trump has proclaimed a “national emergency” and accordingly, announced a plan to transfer already authorized funding to build his vision of a tall border wall.  The law the President is using has been used numerous times before by previous Presidents, mostly for events like hurricanes or tornados. Congress has never objected to the Presidential declaration but this time is different.  Why?

The law envisioned an emergency situation which would be urgent and temporary in nature.  Congress anticipated situations where speed was appropriate. The law did allow Congress to subsequently deny approval if Congress so felt necessary.   Congress is now poised to vote non-approval and the reasons are many.

Commonsense would conclude that in the third year of the President’s term, and after the GOP controlled Congress for the first two years, and the President has made no secret of his desire to build a wall without success in getting funding, there must be some new event which constitute a bonafide “emergency”.  In other words, what is different now?

The short answer is nothing. 

The President insists, however, that through the US-Mexico border passes drugs, undocumented aliens, criminals, and sex traffickers. There is no evidence that (1) that these situations occur predominantly in the non-walled or non-fenced border areas and once walled these incidents would dramatically decrease.  Or, (2) that prevailing expert opinion supports the view that border security improvements in the authorized ports of entry would be effective and make a far larger return on the money spent.  For example, an estimated 80% of drug smuggling occurs in freight passing through legal ports of entry.  New border walls will not impact this.

Republican Senators are caught in a pickle.  These GOP members are not absent commonsense and can understand the “national emergency” does not exist, or even if it did, building more barriers is a waste of time and money.  Instead these GOP members are mincing words about supporting the President because he is the President. Other GOP members cite “separation of powers” between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch and wish the President had not invoked a national emergency… without addressing the fact that there is no emergency, rather there is a chronic border situation.

Congress over the past two years has had ample time to prepare budget authorization for border security.  In each offering, Congress has dodged the option to fund a “big beautiful wall” which President Trump says he wants.  The President’s invoking of a “national emergency” is a naked attempt to subvert the Constitutional responsibility Congress has to approve appropriations.

Worse, the President’s attempts will accomplish nothing versus his stated reasons for a wall.  Any wall would require years (maybe 5-10) to be built assuming the President could overcome legal challenges. 

Could this kerfuffle be really intended as a distraction from other Presidential missteps?

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