Cramer Is Wrong to Support Trump’s Emergency Declaration


Senator Kevin Cramer today announced that he’s going to vote against a resolution of disapproval opposing President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.

He’s wrong to do so, and I suspect his decision is rooted more in politics than policy.

Accuse me of whataboutism if you want, but I suspect that Senator Cramer would be taking a different position on this issue if Hillary Clinton were attempting to use a national emergency declaration in the same way.

Like Senator Rand Paul, I don’t believe President Trump is wrong on policy, but rather wrong on tactics. I think we should build the border wall. I think we should enforce our nation’s laws against illegal immigration far more rigorously than we have in the past.

(I also think these measures should be coupled with reforms to make legal immigration far easier than it is currently, but that’s a subject for another post.)

What I don’t want is for Presidents to be able to declare a national emergency, and bypass our nation’s lawmaking process, simply because that process has proved too arduous.

Trump, and his supporters like Cramer, are letting the ends justify the means. They talk of legal justification for this maneuver, but ever expansion of executive power comes with a legal justification. That doesn’t make them right.

I am as frustrated as anyone with the lack of progress toward securing our border, but we cannot allow that frustration to become support for breaking down the checks and balance of government for the sake of expediency. Just as Democrats came to rue the day they got rid of filibusters for judicial appointments, watching Trump appointees like Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh make it through confirmation, if Trump succeeds in this Republicans will regret it.

When a future Democratic president declares climate change a national emergency to invoke executive powers bypassing Congress, Republicans who supported Trump in this will cry foul.

And they will be hypocrites.

For what it’s worth, as of the time of this post Senator John Hoeven hasn’t yet announced how he’ll vote on this issue.