Democrats test Republicans’ loyalty to Trump — and the Constitution

Democrats test Republicans’ loyalty to Trump — and the Constitution
Donald Trump/ Commons
Donald Trump/ Commons

Democrats’ initial strategy to deal with Donald Trump was to treat him as an aberration. Hillary Clinton’s campaign depicted him as apart from the Republican establishment in hopes of winning traditional conservative and moderate voters turned off by his style. But two years on, as President Trump dreams of conferring extraordinary powers to the executive — taking control of broadcast networks and creating internment camps for immigrant children – Democrats have taken a new tack: challenging Republicans to choose between their loyalty to Trump and their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

No president in American history has successfully usurped the authority of Congress to get funding for a project that the legislative branch would not approve. Few Republicans in Congress who are willing to follow Trump’s lead in declaring conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency, but fewer still will stand up to block his emergency declaration. Now Democrats are preparing to force Republicans in Congress to vote on the most important legislation of the year.

Our government was designed for the most ultimate power, the power of the purse, to reside within Congress,” Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, recently said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we shouldn't have an executive — I don't care if it's Republican or Democrat — that tries to get around Congress with this national emergency declaration.” Hurd, whose district spans more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly lost his seat last November in one of the nation's closest congressional races. He probably would have had he come out in support of Trump’s wall.

A bipartisan group of 225 House members, including Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have signed onto the joint resolution to terminate Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. The House is expected to vote Tuesday on a one-page resolution from Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, under 50 U.S.C. 1622 — the National Emergencies Act (NEA) — which outlines a process by which Congress can terminate a national emergency through expedited legislative procedures. Under those rules, the House will have less than 20 days to consider the measure (and will take much less time than that) before the resolution moves to the Senate where it faces a similar timeline of consideration. This is where Democrats hope their pressure campaign will work.

There are already two GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who have voiced support for the Democratic bill to block Trump’s emergency declaration. Republicans can afford to lose only four votes in all.

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