We don’t want no fake National Emergency, and most likely we ain’t gonna get one. But we must fight it in the halls of congress and the courts to protect our constitution, to say no to Trump’s ineffective, useless vanity project, and to prevent diversion of funds from New Jersey’s planned military construction, drug interdiction, and law enforcement purposes. Our Democratic congressional members have spoken out powerfully against this declaration. The House vote today to overturn the “National emergency” is a first step in what is shaping up as a referendum on the president himself.
Democrats Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Albio Sires (CD 8) have emphasized the importance of taking Trump to court over the declaration. “Once we allow a president to go down this path, we are creating precedents.” New Jersey joined 15 other states in suing to overturn the declaration. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called it a “manufactured” crisis.
One example of Trump’s declaration threatens two projects in New Jersey: $41 million for a munitions disassembly complex at Picatinny Arsenal and $10.2 million for a new refueling system for planes with hazardous cargo at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (CD 11) has said, “I have deep concerns about this declaration’s likely impact on our military readiness, military families, and projects at Picatinny Arsenal.” Rep. Andy Kim (CD 3) while not directly addressing the Joint Base in his district, has said the declaration “undermines the spirit of bipartisan compromise and our ability to get things done for the American people.”
Constitutionally congress has the sole power of the purse – to allocate funds to specific accounts – and the executive branch has the duty to obey. Rep Tom Malinowski (CD 7) said, “This isn’t about building or stopping the [border] wall. This is about defending the constitution.”
Bonne Watson Coleman (CD 12) says, “There is no emergency, period, and… it’s why the public doesn’t support it.” A national Marist poll of February 17 asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency?” The result: 61% disapproved, 36% approved, and 3% were unsure.
The eleven Democratic members of our House delegation voted YEA to support the resolution to terminate the “emergency.” In spite of the Joint Base also being part of Republican Chris Smith’s CD 4 district, he approves of funding a border wall – specifically a physical barrier – and he voted NAY. The resolution passed the House by a vote of YEAS 245 to NAYS 182 with all Democrats and 13 Republicans in support, and 182 Republicans in opposition.
It now must be voted upon in the Senate where our two senators will support termination. To pass in the Senate at least four Republicans must vote for it, so the outcome is uncertain. If it does pass in the Senate, Trump will veto it. It would then be quite difficult to get enough Republicans to override the veto. However, a message of disapproval to Trump will have been sent. A court would then hopefully put a temporary hold on implementing the declaration until further review.
There IS a National Emergency particularly in Honduras and El Salvador where autocratic regimes, gangs, drug dealers, and poverty rule. Here we must help its people regain opportunities to live safely and more prosperously. And there is a crisis in Venezuela where its corrupt madman Maduro is starving its citizens. Here Trump opposes him not so much because Maduro is a dictator, but because he is a “socialist’ – a label Trump sees as a winning strategy to pin on his Democratic 2020 challengers.
There are numerous legitimate National Emergencies in the USA which Trump ignores, including the opioid crisis, climate change and gun violence. These are just a few of the crises which 2020 Democratic candidates should address. While their thrust should be on the positive changes they want to implement, they occasionally will have to respond when, as Rep. Bill Pascrell (CD 9) says, Trump “is making a power grab and acting like a dictator.”
Preview foto of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), accompanied by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), left, possibly our Rep. Tom Malinowki (second from the right) and others, speaking about the resolution. (Alex Brandon/AP). In one of the final speeches Pelosi said, “We are not going to shred the constitution. We would be delinquent if we did not overturn what the President is doing.”