President Donald Trump’s decision to sign both a national emergency and a spending bill approved by Congress has divided America once more: Democrats are outraged by the emergency, while Trump Republicans hate the bill.
In a statement following the signing, the White House declared a “border security victory,” describing the Homeland Security appropriations bill as containing “a number of significant legislative victories” that will help secure the US border with Mexico. The White House also defended the emergency declaration as having a clear legal authority and following the established precedent.
However, the response from politicians, journalists, and regular Americans once again showed they were watching “different movies on the same screen,” as cartoonist Scott Adams once put it.
Democrats regarded the spending bill as a major victory, not the least because it gave Trump far less for funding for border barriers than he would have got last December, before a showdown with Congressional Democrats led to the 35-day government shutdown, the longest in US history.
They hated the emergency declaration, however, calling it illegitimate, illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, fake and vowing to fight it in the courts. The outrage was amplified by Twitter, with hashtags #FakeTrumpEmergency and #FakeNationalEmergency quickly trending.
This #FakeTrumpEmergency is a reckless & unprecedented abuse of presidential power, not to mention a waste of billions of taxpayer dollars. It would steal money from our military & critical drug apprehension efforts to construct a needless, medieval wall. This is terrible policy. https://t.co/xv9oe62kXt
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) February 15, 2019
The only crisis at our border is the one Trump manufactured through his inhumane immigration policies. This #FakeNationalEmergency is a gross abuse of power. @HouseJudiciary will hold the administration accountable and determine the “supposed” legal basis for these actions.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) February 15, 2019
Critics quickly latched onto Trump’s line that he “didn’t have to do this,” with the American Civil Liberties Union and President Obama’s former solicitor-general declaring that it would be grounds for overturning the declaration.
BREAKING: We’re suing President Trump over today’s blatantly illegal declaration of a national emergency.
There is no emergency. This is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities. We’ll see him in court.
— ACLU (@ACLU) February 15, 2019
Trump just said; “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
Whatever a national emergency may be, that’s not it.
That quote is going right in the lawsuit. https://t.co/FzwS4xIaMw
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) February 15, 2019
Republicans were equally unhappy, though. While some grumbled about the emergency, the overwhelming sentiment among Trump supporters was disdain and loathing of the spending bill, which they argued was packed with “landmines” and “poison pills” inserted by Democrats.
With the spending bill passing, every illegal alien in the US now knows that if they sponsor an unaccompanied minor, they’ll be able to avoid detention and deportation. What’s to stop them from smuggling children in? Why not fingerprint the children?https://t.co/sShdfr02Ln
— Center for Immigration Studies (@CIS_org) February 15, 2019
My anger over the anti-America First bill & the National Emergency placation, doesn’t mean I hate Trump.
Honestly, it makes me sad — I see how far gone our govt is. It shatters the hopes I had. But I’d rather be real about it. I won’t pretend something that sucks is a “win.”
— Amy (@RightHookUSA) February 15, 2019
A number of Senate Republicans were also not impressed with the emergency declaration, with Politico quoting opposition from Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), among others.
Others, like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) grudgingly admitted the emergency was legal but argued Congress should reassert its powers to change that.
My initial assessment is that what Pres. Trump announced is legal. Whether or not it should be legal is a different matter. Congress has been ceding far too much power to the exec. branch for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunity to start taking that power back.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) February 15, 2019
Congress theoretically has the power to overrule Trump on the emergency, but it has never been used. The unprecedented move would require veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate, which seems unlikely even if several GOP lawmakers join forces with the Democrats.
Given Congress will try to block this executive action, I’m seeing speculation Congress could override a POTUS veto w/ GOP votes. They will not. The votes will not be there. There is broad GOP + American support for POTUS taking legal, constitutional action to protect families.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) February 15, 2019
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