Iowa Republicans complicit in Trump's fake national emergency

“Whatever a national emergency may be, that’s not it,” tweeted experienced Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal, after President Donald Trump admitted during his February 15 press conference, “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”

The courts may stop Trump from using funds appropriated for other purposes to have the military build a wall along the southern border, which Congress has repeatedly declined to authorize. But the president’s warlord-like behavior can still do lasting harm to democratic institutions.

Iowa Republicans in Congress are either unconcerned about this “reckless disregard for the separation of powers” or cheering it on.

Commentators on the left and right largely agree that Trump is abusing his legal authority. Charles Pierce wrote at Esquire,

This is a direct assault by this president* on the Congress’s Article I powers. Usually, presidents use these powers to do things like levy sanctions on countries that are slaughtering their own people. What this president* is trying to do is to redirect money already appropriated for a project that Congress already has declined to fund—the last time only a couple of days ago. That is purely a dictatorial action. It is an abuse of power. It cannot be allowed to stand.

David French argued in the conservative National Review, “If you look at the plain language and clear intent of the relevant statutes, they do not permit Trump to defy Congress and build his wall. He knows it. Congress knows it. His own lawyers know it.” The rarely-discerning Jonah Goldberg noted, “The simple fact is that failing to get the budget you want from Congress isn’t a national emergency, regardless of how much you invoke national security and talk about invasion.”

The editors of The Bulwark, another conservative publication, warned, “The upcoming vote on the emergency order will be a defining—if not the defining—vote of this Congress and it will test the GOP’s commitment both to constitutional norms and to limited government.”

To all appearances, Iowa Republicans will fail that test.

Senator Chuck Grassley has spent 60 years serving in the legislative branch. Yet he had nothing to say publicly after Trump’s embarrassing February 15 press conference. In a statement released the previous day, Grassley shifted the blame to Congressional Democrats:

As I’ve said many times, I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds. Accordingly, I will study the President’s declaration closely. The Constitution grants Congress the authority to appropriate federal dollars, so I’m sure such action will be litigated in the courts. What’s clear, however, is that the president takes the situation at our border seriously and that Democrats do not. It defies reason that Democrats are so committed to an open borders agenda.

Congress could pass a motion to disapprove of Trump’s action, but Grassley doesn’t sound inclined to go down that road. Politico’s Burgess Everett, Andrew Desiderio, and Melanie Zanona quoted him as saying, “I wish he wouldn’t have done it […] If [Trump] figures that Congress didn’t do enough and he’s got to do it, then I imagine we’ll find out whether he’s got the authority to do it by the courts.”

Senator Joni Ernst did not comment on today’s developments. Her February 14 news release falsely accused Democrats of trying to slip “radical and unreasonable positions […] like abolishing ICE and borders all together” into the federal government funding bill. That statement ended on an ambiguous note: “At the end of the day, this legislation is a key starting point that will allow the president to move forward on desperately needed border security efforts.”

Does Ernst support a national emergency declaration to build the wall? Her staff did not respond to my inquiry.

Iowa’s leading wall enthusiast, Representative Steve King, was thrilled by the news from the White House. The self-styled “constitutional conservative” had this to say in a written statement:

I have been asking the President to declare a National Emergency to address border security for months, and I support his doing so today. President Trump is on solid Constitutional ground, and I hope he uses this authority to build all of the wall that’s needed, which means extending it until illegal aliens stop going around the end. Americans understand that if a 2,000 mile wall facilitated illegal immigration, Democrats would be clamoring for a National Emergency of their own to build it.

Meanwhile, the Iowa GOP re-tweeted some cheerleading from the head of the Republican National Committee:

I haven’t seen any public comment from Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) about the funding bill or national emergency.

Fellow Democrat Cindy Axne (IA-03) tweeted on February 14, “Tonight I voted for the bipartisan, bicameral deal to keep the government open and strengthen our border security. I strongly urge the President to sign this deal. It’s time to move our country forward.” Although her Congressional office did not release a statement on February 15, her campaign sent a list-building e-mail asking supporters to sign a petition to “TELL TRUMP NO ON THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY”: “Let Trump know that this decision is wrong and that these resources are needed for education, healthcare and rural infrastructure!”

Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) tweeted,

We need to keep our borders secure & our government running. That’s why Congress came together & passed a bipartisan spending bill. Declaring a national emergency, defying our constitution, taking billions of unauthorized taxpayer dollars ignores important checks & balances.

I urge my Senate colleagues to put country and Iowa over party and call out this Administration’s reckless games. This chaos and dysfunction are now risking funds that #IA01 is counting on for the CR flood wall. I’ll fight every day to not let that happen.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price denounced the “act of unconstitutional political theatre”:

The wall is unnecessary, ineffective, and wrong for our country.

However, if the President wants to address a real crisis, he could end this pointless Twitter Trade War that he alone started.

Amen to that.

I enclose below full statements released by the Iowans in Congress.

February 14 press release from Senator Joni Ernst:

Ernst Statement on Border Funding Bill

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement on the Senate’s passage of compromise legislation to provide funding for border security and complete the appropriations process to fund the government through fiscal year 2019:

“Negotiating in good faith and working towards a compromise means both sides get things they want and things they don’t. There’s a lot of good in this compromise legislation, but there are also parts that fall short,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

“We successfully fought back against radical and unreasonable positions from our Democratic colleagues—like abolishing ICE and borders all together—in order to reach a deal that provides critical funds for border security and gives the president the tools to curb illegal immigration and the flow of drugs into Iowa and the rest of the country.

“However, I’m frustrated this bill fails to extend the Violence Against Women Act, legislation I have long called on to be modernized and reauthorized. It also contains a provision that could hamstring federal law enforcement efforts and open the door for illegal criminals to evade deportation using vulnerable children. While it sets up the critical framework for a border wall, I’m concerned there are provisions tucked into this compromise bill that will actually establish roadblocks for wall construction in areas where it is needed.

“At the end of the day, this legislation is a key starting point that will allow the president to move forward on desperately needed border security efforts.”

February 14 press release from Senator Chuck Grassley:

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to approve funding legislation that will keep the government open.

“No bill is perfect. But Congress has a responsibility to find compromises that keep the government funded and address the issues facing our country. President Trump has demonstrated time and again that he is willing to be flexible and negotiate a solution to the humanitarian and security crisis at the border. I appreciate that leadership and wish Democratic leaders would do more to negotiate in the same spirit.

“As I’ve said many times, I have concerns about the precedent that could be set with the use of emergency action to re-appropriate funds. Accordingly, I will study the President’s declaration closely. The Constitution grants Congress the authority to appropriate federal dollars, so I’m sure such action will be litigated in the courts. What’s clear, however, is that the president takes the situation at our border seriously and that Democrats do not. It defies reason that Democrats are so committed to an open borders agenda.”

February 14 press release from Representative Steve King:

King Statement on National Emergency Declaration for Border Security

“Americans understand that if a 2,000 mile wall facilitated illegal immigration, Democrats would be clamoring for a National Emergency of their own to build it.”

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Steve King releases this statement following the announcement that President Donald Trump will be declaring a National Emergency to address the national security and humanitarian crisis on our border with Mexico that has been caused by years of virtually unchecked illegal immigration.

“I have been asking the President to declare a National Emergency to address border security for months, and I support his doing so today. President Trump is on solid Constitutional ground, and I hope he uses this authority to build all of the wall that’s needed, which means extending it until illegal aliens stop going around the end. Americans understand that if a 2,000 mile wall facilitated illegal immigration, Democrats would be clamoring for a National Emergency of their own to build it.

In fact, the government shutdown allowed the President to show the American public that the Democrats just cannot be trusted to place the security interests of the American public over Democrats’ political interests in an open borders agenda which places the desires of illegal aliens above the needs and wishes of the American people. The conference report that was produced in the wake of the shutdown is woefully insufficient to begin to address our border security needs, just as the Democrats who helped draft it wanted and ensured.”

February 14 press release from Representative Abby Finkenauer:

Finkenauer Statement on Reports President Trump Will Declare a National Emergency

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) released the following statement on the bipartisan border security package and statements from the White House that President Trump will declare a national emergency:

“I’m glad that Republicans and Democrats were able to come together on a border security package, avoiding another government shutdown and devoting real resources to our nation’s security. Iowans are sick and tired of government by chaos and dysfunction. This bipartisan agreement increases funding for security at our border and provides our law enforcement officials with the technology and resources they need to keep us safe.”

“The potential declaration of a national emergency is concerning and could take essential money from critical projects like the Cedar Rapids flood wall. That federal commitment, made to the people of Eastern Iowa, should not be up for debate.”

February 15 press release from the Iowa Democratic Party:

DES MOINES – In response to the President declaring a national emergency in order to get funding for his stupid border wall, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price issued the following statement:

“This is just another act of unconstitutional political theatre from our President. The wall is unnecessary, ineffective, and wrong for our country.

However, if the President wants to address a real crisis, he could end this pointless Twitter Trade War that he alone started.

Because he continues to grandstand, thousands of Iowa farmers, their families, and their communities can’t afford to put food on the table. Since he started it, this is the one real crisis our country is facing that he can end today.”

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