The solution for Trump’s impending Senate showdown: End the national emergency – Washington Examiner
By declaring a national emergency to build his promised wall at the southern border, President Trump has pitted his presidency against the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers, legislative control of funds, and limited government among others. And, as congressional Republicans have increasingly made clear, they’re not so willing to throw those principles out the window. That leaves the Senate poised to rebuke the president and, in the process, highlight divisions within the party. That’s a spectacle that Trump should avoid.
And there’s a way to do it.
Already, four Republican senators — enough for the bill to pass with a slim 51-49 majority — have joined Democrats in rejecting Trump’s national emergency. On Saturday, Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. joined Sens. Thom Tills R-N.C., Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska, and Susan Collins R-Maine, all but ensuring that the bill will pass the Senate.
With Paul taking a decisive stand against the president, more senators are likely to come out against the national emergency declaration as well. That leaves Trump in need of an escape route from an embarrassing floor vote and the prospect of using his first veto to further the untoward and saga of getting money for his wall by circumventing Congress.
Luckily, there’s another option. In 2005, former President George W. Bush faced a somewhat similar situation. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he had issued a proclamation suspending Davis-Bacon, allowing government contractors to pay workers at lower wages because the devastation constituted “national emergency.” Lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate saw things differently. And so, facing criticism and the prospect that a vote on the joint resolution introduced against the proclamation might result in a rebuke, Bush revoked his own proclamation entirely, avoiding a fight within his own party.
Trump needs a similar solution to avoid conflict within his party. And for Trump, the consequences are coming from opposition within his own party upping the stakes. Although likely to stir significant anger among his base, Trump should, like Bush, recognize that danger of congressional rebuke and opt to avoid it by pulling his controversial declaration.
Indeed, GOP lawmakers have already floated this as a possibility. On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander R-Tenn. implied that rethinking the declaration was the preferable solution, explaining, “There is time for the president’s lawyers to take another look and determine whether we can both build the 234 miles of border wall that the president has requested and avoid this dangerous precedent.”
Alexander is right. A fight among Republicans forcing a choice between the president and the Constitution does not end well for either Republican control of the Oval Office or the future of the party. If Trump wins, the party loses its credibility. If the Constitution wins, as it ought to, the White House faces a clear challenge from allies it desperately needs on the Hill as Democrats embark on ambition investigations.
That’s not a fight that Trump should be looking to pick within his own party, especially as Republicans have made clear that he does not have their backing. His best option is to revoke his own emergency declaration.