Editorial: N.C. members of Congress - Protect the Constitution, not Trump's trophy wall

Posted February 19, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2019 5:47 a.m. EST

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019; Editorial #8392
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Providing food, shelter and health services to victims of hurricanes is an emergency. A presidential declaration is warranted.

Responding to attacks on American soil that leaves thousands dead and injured is an emergency. We expect our president to act quickly.

Freezing the assets of foreign powers, officials or groups because of human rights violations, terrorism or drug trafficking is an emergency. The president should swiftly act.

Being upset because Congress, which has the power to authorize how federal funds are spent, didn’t provide money to build an unnecessary wall along the Mexican border IS NOT an emergency. Making such a declaration, as President Donald Trump has done, is a tantrum.

Congress should block it. Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation should join in that move for two important reasons:

  • The wall is not necessary and doesn’t address the real concerns over border security.
  • The President’s actions threaten the Constitutional separation of powers and would significantly weaken future congresses – whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats.

None of the approximately 60 times presidents have invoked the 1976 National Emergencies Act, has it been because Congress refused a president’s spending request.

“There is no example where a president asked for funding for something from Congress, Congress said, ‘No,’ and the president said, ‘I’ll use emergency powers to do it anyway,’” said Chris Edelson, an American University government professor who wrote THE book on presidential use of the act.

While North Carolina’s senior senator, Republican Richard Burr has been silent on the issue, Thom Tillis has voiced appropriate opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration.

“I don’t believe a national emergency is the solution,” Tillis, a Republican, said.

While Tillis says he doesn’t believe in “situational principles,” other Republicans in the congressional delegation appear not to be so bound.

“If the president and his advisers decide that’s what they need to do, than that’s what they need to do,” said an acquiescent Rep. Virginia Foxx.

Republican Mark Meadows, one of the president’s most steadfast advocates in Congress, said Trump is “absolutely right” to declare an emergency to secure funding for the wall.

There are real consequences – ones that WILL hurt North Carolina and jeopardize national security – should Congress fail to stand up to the president’s vanity.

The money for the wall will come at the expense of defense construction needs for the soldiers at Fort Bragg, the Marines at Camp Lejeune and the pilots and crews at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Sen Tillis sees clearly his responsibility to protect the Constitution. Representatives Foxx and Meadows don’t seem to care.

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