Despite the president’s Congressionally-authorized authority to declare national emergencies and shift previously appropriated funds toward crisis-related priorities, Democrats are still outraged over President Donald Trump’s February designation of emergency status at the southern border and his decision to move certain Defense Department resources toward border wall construction.
Senate Democrats tried and failed to override Trump’s declaration in March, but now Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding another bite at that apple and has called for yet another vote of disapproval against Trump’s declaration and the transfer of funds that stemmed from it, The Hill reports.
Schumer not giving up
The Washington Post reported that, purusuant to the National Emergencies Act, the Senate is permitted to make a “privileged” — meaning it can’t be blocked by other senators — attempt once every six months to override any presidential declaration, which is what Schumer now intends to do.
At issue for Democrats is nothing more than their obstinate opposition to Trump’s planned border wall, but in this case, that stubbornness has been couched in concern over Trump’s use of roughly $3.6 billion in canceled or delayed military construction projects to instead help fund the barrier’s construction.
In a Sept. 10 speech on the Senate floor calling for the vote, Schumer said, “This rises to a large and vital constitutional issue: Does our country truly have checks and balances, particularly when we have such an overreaching president?”
“We all must consider the dangerous precedent that would set if presidents may declare national emergencies every time their initiatives fail in Congress. It is outrageous,” he added.
As noted, the overwhelming majority of the military construction projects from which previously appropriated funds are being diverted had already been canceled or delayed for one reason or another. Some lawmakers have suggested that, if those projects truly are worthy of completing at some future date, Congress could simply re-appropriate or “backfill” the Defense Department’s budget for those specific projects.
However, obstructionist Democrats with zero desire for compromise with this administration or their Republican colleagues have staunchly refused to take such action — suggesting to some that they aren’t really as concerned about those stymied projects as they purport themselves to be.
Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who initially was one of a few Republicans who opposed Trump’s move, has now come to see the common sense wisdom behind the declaration and the subsequent shifting of unused funds.
“I think Chuck Schumer is talking out of both sides of his mouth,” Tillis said with regard to his demand for a vote.
“On the one hand, he says it’s a slap to the military; on the other hand, he says it’s not gonna backfill it? We’ll have that discussion once we get to the appropriations process,” he added.
Odds are, Senate Democrats will fail once again to vote down Trump’s declaration and block the diversion of construction funds to the border wall. Whether this becomes a bi-annual exercise in futility by Schumer and his comrades in the coming years remains to be seen.