It is no secret that Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) is no fan of President Donald Trump.
But Sasse’s recent critiques of President Trump’s executive actions to sidestep a congressional stalemate just earned him a sharp rebuke from the commander in chief, who suggested that the senator had “gone rogue” and was actually helping the opposition by lobbing attacks at the White House, Politico reported.
Trump slams Sasse
It was on Monday that President Trump tweeted, “RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again. This foolishness plays right into the hands of the Radical Left Dems!”
Trump’s portrayal of Sasse as a “rogue” RINO (Republican In Name Only) who was aiding and abetting the Democrats came in response to a sharply critical statement issued by the senator with regard to executive actions taken by the president to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Politico noted that those executive actions — which Trump deemed necessary after congressional Democrats refused to negotiate with Republicans on another relief bill — included a deferral of payroll taxes for employees and employers, an extension of additional unemployment benefits, a deferral of student loan payments and interest, and a federal moratorium on evictions, all until at least the end of 2020.
Sasse critiques Trump orders
In a statement issued on Saturday night after Trump announced the executive actions, Sasse said, “The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop,” in reference to former President Barack Obama’s infamous “pen-and-phone” excuse for his own executive overreaches.
“President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law,” the senator added. “Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress.”
Politico reported that, following Trump’s tweet against Sasse, the senator issued even more criticism of the president’s actions, though he did seem to “express regret” for making their argument public and suggested they meet for a private discussion to work out their differences.
Of course, while Sasse may have been technically correct in his statement about the unconstitutionality of a president using executive authority to bypass Congress and do things that are supposed to be done by the legislature, in reality, that ship sailed a long time ago.
First of all, almost since the inception of this nation, Congress has repeatedly deferred and granted broad latitude to the executive branch and the federal bureaucracy when it comes to rule-making and enforcement decisions on matters that, according to the Constitution, are well within the purview of Congress.
Furthermore, the recent Supreme Court ruling in June that upheld Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) executive order essentially granted the staying power of statutory law to executive actions and made them much more difficult to overturn, according to former federal prosecutor John Yoo in a piece written for National Review.
In the end, while it would have much more preferable for Congress to have passed a bill for Trump to sign that would do the same things as the executive orders, that clearly wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, and the president stood on firm precedential ground in deciding to act.