Why you should care
Republican senators need to get their priorities straight ahead of next week’s vote.
Susan Del Percio
Susan Del Percio is a New York–based Republican strategist.
You know how Charlie Brown trusts Lucy to hold the football … only to have it pulled away at the last second? Well, like a faithful friend, I’m similarly hoping Republicans will do the right thing by not only voting in support of the resolution of disapproval to overturn President Trump’s national emergency but doing so in veto-proof numbers. The time to take a stand is now rather than leaving conservatism to fall on its face again.
On Feb. 26, the House voted 245 to 182 to overturn Trump’s national emergency on the Mexican border, and now the question heads to the Senate. Four Republican senators have said they will vote for the resolution, which will most likely lead to a veto by Trump. Nearly all the members of Congress supporting the resolution have said that they believe Trump’s call for an emergency action sets a dangerous precedent and is unconstitutional. After all, the Founding Fathers gave appropriations authority to the legislative branch, not the executive.
Never in my 30 years in politics have I seen leadership on either side of the aisle abdicate nearly all their power to the president, even of their own party. We expect politicians to contort themselves into positions that they once deemed unacceptable, turning into pretzels if needed to tow the party line. But at some point, we must demand that our lawmakers put integrity and the Constitution ahead of their own self-preservation and ambition.
They need to stop worrying about Trump’s hold over primary voters … and remind themselves of the oath they took in entering public office.
This week Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined three fellow Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina) — in announcing his support for the resolution of disapproval of the president’s national emergency. Paul went on to say that he believed that there may be up to an additional 10 senators who will also support the resolution. Will Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who vowed in a January op-ed to oppose policies that are not “in the best interest of the country,” be one of them? It is our responsibility to hold elected officials to their word, so this will be a good first test for Romney.
But most Republicans know that Trump’s declaration was nothing more than a spoiled child’s response to not getting what he wanted for the border wall. They need to stop worrying about Trump’s hold over primary voters — around 90 percent of Republicans, according to polls, back the president — and remind themselves of the oath they took in entering public office. I’m looking at you, Lindsey Graham, the maverick turned sycophant who told The New York Times recently: “If you don’t want to get re-elected, you’re in the wrong business.” And here I thought the business was doing the right thing for the country.
If doing the right thing isn’t enough reason, then Republican senators need to look no further than the daily news. From chatter about the Mueller investigation, New York’s Southern District and the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that Trump is in real trouble. So why should Republicans give blind, unearned loyalty to a man who will never, ever be there for them?
We will be hearing a lot about what constitutes a national emergency, the powers delegated under the Constitution and the perils of setting precedent. But the real danger Americans face is the limitless impulses toward self-preservation and ambition of our elected officials.
Like Charlie Brown, however, I fear I’ll be left dazed and confused at Senate Republicans’ efforts to stay in the game.