Congress was right to vote against the “national emergency”

Printed in the Herald-Times, March 27, 2019.

To the Editor:

The House and Senate were right to approve a resolution nullifying the President’s declaration of a national emergency. Executive power has expanded far too much, with each successive administration taking more power for itself. Our system of government was never meant to have this much power in the executive branch and the bureaucracy.

Border security is important. We have gone too long without taking meaningful action to increase security on our southern border. Physical barriers work and are good policy. A nation without secure borders is not a nation.

But the President should not be using a “national emergency” to move money not explicitly appropriated by Congress, especially since he had the opportunity to do that in 2017 and 2018 with a Republican majority. As a budget item, that could have been passed with reconciliation rules.

Yes, Congressional Democrats are hypocrites, after not standing up to abuses by Barack Obama. Let’s not pretend this was done out of principle, rather than partisanship.

But whatever the motivation, we have to start limiting executive overreach somewhere. The next step should be to amend the national emergency law to allow Congress to nullify a national emergency with a simple majority in both houses.