Donald Trump faced rebellion from members of his own party in the senate yesterday as his declaration of an emergency on the US-Mexico border was rejected. The president has threatened to veto the move which would deny him access to funds needed to build his wall along the southern border.
Donald Trump’s flagship policy of a wall along the US-Mexico border has not drawn much support from other government departments. After a stalemate in discussions about funding led to the longest government shutdown in history over the winter, congress reluctantly gave him $1.4 billion for the project – a hefty amount, but nowhere near enough to complete the project.
In order to secure more funding, the president has sought to enact a state of emergency, a special provision which would allow him access to military coffers and potentially an extra $8 billion for the wall.
The senate voted yesterday on revoking the declaration of a state of emergency and it was passed by 59 – 41 votes. Embarrassingly for the president, this meant that several senators from his own republican party sided with the democrats in order to pass the motion.
The rebel republicans included Mitt Romney and Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Florida), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Rob Portman (Ohio), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Kentucky), and Roger Wicker (Mississippi).
The president announced his state of emergency back in February (2019) after asserting that the numbers of migrants crossing the US’s southern border constituted a national emergency. In fact migration figures into the US from Mexico appear to be at their lowest levels since the 1970s; the early 2000s saw figures around 4 to 5 times higher than the numbers crossing this year.
Next Move: VETO!
Consistent with his usual blustering style, Trump took to twitter to vent his feelings about the outcome of the vote. He first tweeted the single word “VETO” before expanding in a second tweet:(Embed Tweet Here)
Under the provision of the National Emergencies Act, the president may veto a decision by congress. If the senate hope to overrule this, they need a two-thirds majority – you may have noticed the 59 – 41 majority reached yesterday doesn’t quite make the grade, so he may be successful if he does indeed use his veto.
The president has come under fire from democrats and some republicans for his method on this front. Basically, two things sit uneasy with many in congress.
Firstly, that the president is attempting to abuse the emergency powers provision to simply sidestep congress’ checks and balances. In a national emergency the president has more unchecked power to do what he likes, so that things can get done faster. This includes power over the allocation of the military budget, something which congress usually has to sign off on.
Secondly, both parties are seeing this move as potentially setting a dangerous precedent for future presidents. If what are supposed to be special powers are abused to the point they become powers which are used regularly, this will erode the power of the checks and balances on the president from elsewhere in government. It’s a bit like buying your kid ice cream every day before dinner and then one day trying to tell them no – how do you argue with them when they say, “but you always buy me ice cream before dinner!”?
The president is expected to make good on his promise and use his veto, which means that unless there are any more defections from the republicans to make up a two-thirds majority to overrule him, the next path will be through the courts; the president can face legal action from the state attorneys general as well as a number of other parties.
For what its worth, it’s hard to believe anyone would seriously consider the number of people crossing the US-Mexico border right now an emergency, especially when you think about that alongside the fact that the US has a mass-shooting on what seems like a weekly basis. From the cryptoverse, our own Richard Heart seems to also see it as a bit of a stretch, tweeting this yesterday in response to a video posted by the White House showing migrants crossing the border filmed on night vision cameras.
Image Credits: “Times”
Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.