A litmus test ‘to preserve, to protect, and to defend the Constitution of the United States’

The Hill, which does very good reporting (but pairs with the right-wing propaganda site Newsmax, and redirects to Fox News) has an unfortunate but very telling headline today: Emergency declaration to test GOP loyalty to Trump.

Sorry, but no. This is actually a litmus test of their oath of office “to preserve, to protect, and to defend the Constitution of the United States.”

This is a challenge to the separation of powers to see whether Congress will jealously guard its “power of the purse” that the Constitution expressly gives solely to Congress, or whether Republicans will abdicate this constitutional power to the president, acting by executive fiat, out of loyalty to their personality cult of Donald Trump. Anyone voting against this resolution fails this litmus test and is in violation of their oath of office, and should be removed from office. Period.

House Democrats will introduce a joint resolution today to block President Trump’s emergency declaration, kicking off round two of the border wall fight that has consumed Washington for months.

The resolution will be introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas. At only one page long, the resolution gets straight to the point:

The national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019 … is hereby terminated.”

It will take several weeks to move the resolution through committee and several days after that to get it to the House floor for a vote. There is no rush for Democrats, who are united on this front and happy to allow additional time for GOP divisions to spill into the open.

* * *

Once the resolution passes the Democratic-controlled House, the GOP-controlled Senate will be required to vote on it. Senate Democrats could introduce an identical resolution as early as today. See, Senate Dems to introduce resolution blocking Trump’s emergency declaration.

Democrats need to pick up at least four Republicans in the Senate for it to pass. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week became the first GOP senator to say she would vote in favor of the resolution. Several others have publicly criticized Trump’s emergency declaration.

The GOP senators to watch: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.).

If the resolution passes the Senate, it could lead to Trump’s first veto.

If Congress can’t override the veto, there are about a half-dozen lawsuits working their way through the courts at the moment. If Congress votes overwhelmingly to rebuke Trump, it could will damage the administration’s arguments in court.

The Hill goes on to report that Republicans intend to violate their oath of office in thrall to the personality cult of Donald Trump, because they fear their GOP crazy base. Don’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall:

Few House Republicans appear ready to defy President Trump by backing a resolution that would stop his emergency declaration to build a wall on the Mexican border.

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tees up a floor vote on a resolution to block Trump’s unilateral move, most Republicans are set to line up in defense of their White House ally — despite some publicly voiced concerns about his action.

The reasons are both practical and political.

With Democrats in control of the lower chamber, Republicans are powerless to block the disapproval resolution, which will be introduced Friday by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).

Perhaps more importantly, polls indicate that Trump’s declaration enjoys the overwhelming support of Republican voters, leaving GOP lawmakers no cover to buck the president — particular on his signature issue of border security.

Republicans are “an insurgent outlier in American politics” and are “ideologically extreme.” US Polls Show Majorities Oppose National Emergency Declaration:

Three new polls in the U.S. show that a majority of Americans oppose President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall along the country’s southern border with Mexico without congressional authorization.

In the latest survey released Wednesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll showed Americans were opposed to Trump’s action by a 51-39 percent margin.

But as is often the case in polls about Trump’s actions, there was a sharp political divide in the survey results. Trump’s emergency declaration drew 77 percent support from fellow Republicans, with 18 percent opposed. A total of 81 percent of Democrats voiced opposition, while 52 percent of independents said they were opposed.

A HuffPost/YouGov survey found a 55-37 percent margin against the president’s emergency declaration, again with the president’s supporters overwhelmingly favoring and Democrats opposed.

A National Public Radio/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll pegged the emergency declaration opposition at 61 to 36 percent.

It said Democrats opposed Trump’s action by a 94-6 margin, while Republicans favored it by 85-12. Independents opposed the declaration by a 63-33 margin.

If some have lingering reservations about the move’s legality — or the possibility Trump could use dollars headed toward their districts to construct the wall — there’s little sense they want to invite a primary challenge next year (because that is all that really matters to them, not their oath of office. Courage is in short supply among Republicans).

“As long as Trump’s popularity with Republican voters remains in the high 80s to low 90s, it’s hard to see how the political laws of nature will change,” said Doug Heye, a former House GOP leadership aide and former spokesman at the Republican National Committee.

So Republican loyalty is not to the Constitution of the United States, but to an ideologically extreme personality cult of Donald Trump. We are living in dangerous times. America has to find a way to break the fever of this dangerous personality cult.

Even Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a border-district immigration reformer who’s warning that Trump’s declaration “sets a terrible precedent,” is dodging questions about whether he’ll support the disapproval resolution.

“I’m always open to making sure that Congress takes back some of this power as a coequal branch of government,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “And I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of conversations.”

Across the Capitol, the dynamics are different. Senators represent entire states, not smaller districts gerrymandered into partisan enclaves. And there’s plenty of pressure on some GOP senators to support the disapproval resolution when it’s sent over by the House.

The Hill identified 10 GOP senators who could break with Trump on the issue, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Mitt Romney (Utah).

But it’s far from clear the measure stopping Trump’s emergency declaration will clear the Senate.

So far, the only Republican in Congress vowing to join Democrats is centrist Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. She is expected to face a tough reelection in 2020 and has said she both supports a lawsuit challenging the president’s action and will vote for the Democratic-led resolution.

The disapproval resolution is deemed “privileged” under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which both guarantees a vote in the Senate and precludes opponents from blocking it with a filibuster. That means Senate Democrats, who are expected to stand together, will need to win support from at least three additional Republicans to send the resolution to Trump, who has vowed a swift veto. Neither chamber is expected to reach the two-thirds majority threshold to override a veto.

The question for Congress is simple: “Do you protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States, or do you abdicate your power to an autocratic tyrant?” The answer should be a no-brainer.

UPDATE: The New York Times similarly editorializes, “The Constitution or The Donald? Why is this such a hard choice for congressional Republicans?” An Emergency for the G.O.P.

UPDATE: Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, writes Congress did its job on the border deal. It needs to do it again by amending the emergency act.

In the current “emergency” concerning border security, there was time for Congress to act, and Congress acted, achieving a worthy compromise. Against a backdrop of adequate time for congressional deliberation and decision, an emergency declaration is unreasonable and disregards the Constitution’s preference for legislative decision-making wherever possible.

Congress needs to roll back the erosion of its authority, first and foremost by revisiting the National Emergencies Act and amending it to rebalance away from executive flexibility in the direction of legislative authority.

Congress did its job on a border security compromise, thank heavens. It’s time to do it again by amending the 1976 act.

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