Marc Thiessen writes:
If the goal is to build a border wall, then President Trump has made the wrong decision at every turn. In early 2018, Trump had the opportunity to secure $25 billion in funding for his border wall in exchange for legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. Instead of taking the deal, he blew up the negotiations with his “s—hole” countries remark and by demanding changes to legal immigration policy.
Then in June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $1.6 billion for 65 miles of fencing by an overwhelming bipartisan 26-to-5 vote. This could easily have passed the House and Senate. Instead, Trump later shut down the government over wall funding and demanded $5.7 billion. Result? After a disastrous 35-day shutdown, he got less — $1.38 billion — than he would have if he had just gone along with the bipartisan deal six months earlier.
Trump managed to turn a $25 billion funding package into a $1.4 billion one. That takes a special level of incompetence.
Now, the smart move for Trump would have been to pocket that $1.38 billion and bolster it with an additional $3.1 billion he could arguably use without a declaration of a national emergency — by reprogramming $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interdiction program. That would have given him $4.48 billion in wall funding — nearly the full amount he was demanding from Congress. Then, in December, he could demand more money with leverage over Democrats when an automatic sequester kicks in, forcing $55 billion in across-the-board cuts to domestic discretionary spending unless Trump agrees to raise spending caps.
Definitely would be a smart strategy. The Dems hate the automatic sequester cuts. They’d do a lot to avoid them.
Instead, Trump has made the wrong move once again — declaring a national emergency, despite warnings from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans that it could provoke a backlash from within his own party.
His order will face an immediate court challenge, which means he won’t be able to spend the emergency funds anytime soon, if at all. And if he prevails in court, it will be a disaster for the cause of limited government. If Trump can declare a national emergency to build a border wall Congress refused to fund, then the power of the president to override Congress’s power of the purse will be virtually unlimited. As Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) pointed out, a future liberal president could declare climate change a national emergency and “force the Green New Deal on the American people.” Or, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested, a Democratic president could one day declare the “epidemic of gun violence in America” a national emergency thanks to Trump’s action.
Very true. The fake national emergency, if upheld by the courts, will allow future Democratic Presidents to bypass Congress entirely for their pet projects.
Just as the Democrats’ decision to eliminate the filibuster on lifetime judicial appointments below the Supreme Court backfired — setting precedent for a Republican rules change to put two justices on the Supreme Court and secure its conservative majority for a generation — Republicans will rue the day if they go along with Trump’s executive power grab.
Mr Thiessen is right.