US Politics: We’ve Hit A Wall
It took a few weeks for Congress to do so but the second shutdown has been avoided. However, even though the President signed the spending bill, Trump declared a National Emergency, in order to redirect some of the budget to build a wall on the southern border. How is that possible and what does it mean?
End of the Shutdown
After two months of negotiations on a spending bill, Congress has finally settled on one that the President was willing to sign. Among some additional spending directed towards disaster relief and battling the opioid crisis, the bill allocates 1.375 billion dollars for border security. Some of that funding is aimed at covering building a portion of the border wall, in Texas, mostly through fencing.
Before the shutdown President Trump demanded 5 billion dollars to fund the wall, making it plain and clear why he is not satisfied with the offer. However, in order to avoid another shutdown, the President signed the bill, as both his advisors and colleagues told him that closing the government again would have detrimental effects for his approval ratings.
But as it turns out this is not going to be the end of the wall battle, at least not in the way Congress wanted it. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell stated that the President is going to use his executive power, and declare a national emergency, which he later did. Even though the administration was considering such move for an extended period of time, it was expected that in a case where there is another bill, with funding for a wall, the President would not pursue this move.
President's way, or the highway
The bill passed through Congress with an overwhelming majority, but it didn't stop the conservative wing of the Republican Party's criticism of the proposition. This may have convinced the President that he should pursue this two-part plan securing the funding for his campaign promise. However, the fact that there was a shutdown, and the vast majority of members of Congress agreed on a spending bill, but the President is declaring a state of emergency, is unprecedented and very controversial.
The Constitution stipulates that Congressis the one to decide upon revenue and spending of the federal government, which is one of the bases of the division of power. There have been 31 casesin the past where the President was given such a power, but it was never that controversial. After all, around 40% of voters think that the wall should be built, while the immigration and crime numbers are at very low levels.
Both the Democrats and many Republicansthink that such a move is not legal and can be considered an abuse of power. They think that the situation does not require such an intervention, and it should be Congress deciding on that. On the other hand, many right-wingers think that the President has all the right to use his executive powers, as for them, the wall is necessary to ensure the security of the United States.
If Donald Trump's move ends up successful and the wall does get built, the case may set a dangerous precedent. Presidents in the future might be much less likely to accept a consensus, and instead, pursue their ideals, leading to many national emergencies in the future. Nancy Pelosi said that if a National Emergency was to be called, it should be due to the gun violence, which signals that once a Democrat comes to power in the White House, they also may call a National Emergency.
Additionally, Congress' attitude toward Donald Trump may worsen even more. The President's move might backfire someday, when the Mueller investigation concludes, as it is the role of Congress to decide whether the President should be impeached. This may be especially worrying because many members of his own party perceive his decision as an abuse of power, which may be used as an argument for impeachment. However, as Donald Trump does not perceive the threats as viable, this should not make a big of a difference for him.
A look into the future
The moment Donald Trump declared the national emergency a legislative machine started moving to restrain his effort to build the wall through redirection of public funds. Both Democrats and Centre Republicans are very eager to stop itthrough the Supreme Court. Even though the Conservatives have a majority there, there have been cases in the past where the Court decided against expanding the executive power of the President.
It is not yet certain how the situation is going to end, whether a wall is going to be built, but we already know some things for certain. Both the Democrats and the more Centrist Republicans are going to be much more vicious in their efforts against the President's future decisions. The shutdown may be avoided till the end of Donald Trump's Presidency, but he is definitely going to be asked both about the shutdowns, and the National Emergency when he is running in 2020.
It seems like everyone is losing, but as always, the ones losing the most are the American people. They are paying for the wall, and they are the ones suffering from lack of consensus on the Capitol Hill. Additionally, in the future the even further decrease in bipartisanship and cooperation with the President may block some further legislation which is important for the people. As a bonus, amid all these conflicts and losses, the spending bill includes a raise for the civilian federal workers, including the Members of Congress.