Press Release: Will the Senate Defend Our Constitution?

WASHINGTON—Will Marshall, President of the Progressive Policy Institute, today released the followed statement after President Trump declared a national emergency to fund the border wall:

“By declaring a national emergency to build a border wall, President Trump has crossed the Rubicon. He has turned a cheap partisan stunt into a bona fide Constitutional crisis.

“Congress this week declined to give Trump all the money he demanded to wall off Mexico from the United States. The president has declared an emergency explicitly to defy the will of Congress and usurp its Constitutional power to raise and spend public money. In his contempt for democratic norms, Trump makes no effort to conceal the fact that the alleged ’emergency’ on the border is a political contrivance to assert his will. Having failed to extort wall funding from Congress through the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, he is willing to violate the Constitution to get a political ‘win.’

“This is a clear and cynical abuse of presidential power. Trump seems not to understand or care that U.S. presidents aren’t medieval monarchs, who can demand money from parliaments. Now he’s willing to politicize and trivialize presidential authority to declare national emergencies to fulfill a demagogic campaign promise. The White House will now seek to shift funds Congress has appropriated for national defense and other legitimate purposes to finance a stupid ‘solution’ to a non-existent problem.

“All friends of American democracy, regardless of outlook or party, must rally to the defense of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers. Shamefully, Senate Republicans have yet to stand up for the Constitution they’ve sworn to defend. Their supine unwillingness to put patriotism above partisanship means that Americans must trust to the courts to stop a rogue president.

“Trump’s power grab will no doubt give fresh impetus to efforts to impeach him. That’s understandable, but for now the wiser course for progressives is to keep the pressure on the Senate to defend its Constitutional powers and institutional prerogatives, and to use all legal means to prevent Trump from spending public money without Congressional authority. We need to keep the public focused clearly on how deeply Trump is damaging not just our political system, but now also the Constitutional framework that has enabled American democracy to endure through genuine national emergencies.”


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