House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) showed all of her cards after she rejected Senate Republicans’ proposal of a bill to limit the executive power to declare national emergencies.
After a record-breaking partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump conceded and allowed the government to reopen after announcing that he would be declaring a national emergency to fund the building of a physical barrier at the southern border.
Trump’s move made some Republicans squeamish because they believe it is a government overreach for the president to usurp Congress’ power of the purse. As IJR previously reported, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) compared supporting the president’s national emergency to selling his “political soul.”
This left some Republicans and almost all Democrats on the same page, believing that Trump shouldn’t have the power to declare a national emergency to build a border wall.
In response to this odd agreement between Democrats and Republicans, Senate Republicans considered legislation that would overturn parts of the National Emergencies Act, allowing Congress to take back some of its power from the executive branch.
“Most of my members believe this is not a constitutional issue, but rather, is this granting of authority to any president, not just this president, was it too broad back in the 1970s when it was passed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explained after a meeting with several GOP senators. “We are in discussions about that.”
Pelosi should have been elated by the news that Republicans were considering an effort to strip Trump of some of his executive power. After all, she has said time and again that she believes the debate over the national emergency is about protecting the system of checks and balances.
Now, she’s walking that back. The problem is that she sees nothing wrong with a president having national emergency powers, but she has a huge problem with a president she doesn’t like having national emergency powers.
In an effort to avoid voting in favor of the House's resolution to terminate Trump’s #FakeEmergency, GOP senators are proposing legislation to allow Trump to violate the Constitution *just this once.*
The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 13, 2019
“Republican senators are proposing new legislation to allow the president to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The House will not take up this legislation to give President Trump a pass.”
So in other words, Pelosi doesn’t want Trump’s national emergency declaration to take effect, but she also doesn’t want the national emergency taken off the table for future presidents.
As IJR previously reported, Pelosi has already stated that she believes gun violence is more of a national emergency than the situation at the border. She urged Trump to call a national emergency on the one year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Watch the video below:
"You want to talk about a national emergency? Let's talk about today. The one year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. Why don't you declare that emergency, Mr. President? … A Democratic president could." pic.twitter.com/NDvhb339aT
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 14, 2019
“You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today. The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”
Several Democrats joined her in adding to their national emergencies wish list, including combatting climate change and expanding health care.
If Republicans passed a bill revoking parts of the National Emergencies Act, that could prevent future presidents from declaring emergencies on issues Pelosi and her fellow Democrats support. Pelosi seems to be playing the long game by ensuring that Trump’s use of the national emergency is available should a Democrat take back the Oval Office.