Republicans Revolt Over Trump’s National Emergency


Even the completely normal act of signing an executive order had Republicans’ hair on fire from 2008 to 2016 when President Obama did it. Now, they’ll have to face off with their own president taking extreme measures to circumvent Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Trump well before he made the decision to declare a national emergency over his racist vanity wall that he wasn’t sure he could get Republican senators to back him. McConnell reportedly has resigned himself to the thought that he’ll have to back the declaration since it was the only way to get Trump to sign the spending bill that would keep the government open.

Other Republicans, however, are not resigned.

According to The New York Times:

‘On Friday, President Trump mounted one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades, circumventing Congress with an emergency declaration. It would allow him to unilaterally divert billions of dollars to a border wall and presented his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who labored on a legislative compromise, with the excruciating choice of either defending their institution or bowing to his whims.’

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has spoken out directly about her opposition to Trump’s move, and several other senators are joining her. While Republicans in the House may see standing behind Trump as the best option for reelection, many GOP members of the Senate do not feel the same.

‘The Republican resistance to Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration was much more pronounced in the Senate than in the House, where a few Republicans — in the minority but more closely aligned to Mr. Trump — groused. But most of the conservative rank and file embraced it.’

McConnell’s hypocrisy already knew no bounds considering his sudden talk about “unity” and “unnecessary division,” since no one has forgotten the name Merrick Garland. This bit of hypocrisy, however, may have dual consequences.

First, it’s likely to have an impact in 2020 when Trump and other Republicans have to hold onto to their congressional seats. Second, a Democratic president may be able to cite this incident as justification for declaring a national emergency over healthcare or climate change.

‘The decision left Mr. McConnell, a professed guardian of the Senate’s prerogatives and power, joining with Mr. Trump in supporting an executive branch end run greater than any of the incursions into the legislative process he often accused President Obama of pursuing. Fellow senators said Mr. McConnell, a former member of the Appropriations Committee, was unhappy with the declaration but saw it as the only way to pass the spending bill.’

While the opposition from the GOP is not at a fever pitch just yet, the fight is far from over. Trump is already being sued by several groups over the declaration, and the matter could be tied up in court for some time, leaving plenty of time for other GOP congressional leaders to join the resistance to Trump’s dictatorial act.

‘Four Republicans might be enough to join with Senate Democrats and pass legislation rebuking the president, and leadership aides put the number of potential defectors as high as 10. But the unrest seemed well short of the sort of partywide revolt necessary to override a veto by Mr. Trump of any legislative attempt to prevent his declaration of an emergency, leaving a legal challenge as the only recourse.’

Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license