What They’re Saying: Editorials Across The Country Slam President Trump’s Unlawful National Emergency Declaration

March 13, 2019

Tulsa World (OK) Editorial: Trump Needs To Rethink 'Emergency' Plan To Redirect Congressional Appropriations. “Trump could move ahead with his emergency plans by vetoing the resolution, but he shouldn’t. He should listen to the voices of solid conservatives — including Paul, Inhofe and columnist George Will — who are warning him that preserving the Constitutional order of appropriations is more important than any given campaign promise. ‘I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,’ Paul told the Bowling Green Daily News. ‘We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.’ We agree.” [Tulsa World, 3/6/19]

Houston Chronicle (TX) Editorial: Trump’s ‘National Emergency’ Plan Reveals Real Crisis In America. “American presidents have repeatedly called national emergencies to protect democracy. Donald Trump may become the first to do it to undermine democracy — on our very own soil. If he employs the National Emergencies Act to get his wall, it would be to save face, not to save lives. … Americans voiced their alarm in the mid-term election. It’s time for the newly elected, and for the veteran congressional members of conscience, to check this president. Passing restrictions to the National Emergencies Act is a longshot but needed. Voices of outrage are needed. Resistance, through rallies, through votes, through phone calls, is needed. Patriots, real ones, are needed to respond to a very real emergency.” [Houston Chronicle, 2/14/19]

Waco Tribune-Herald (TX) Editorial: National Emergency On The Border? How About Plain Politics? “Pardon us if we don’t buy President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border as justification to bypass Congress to fund his border wall. A year ago this month, this newspaper vigorously backed a plan touted by Trump that would have yielded a whopping $25 billion in border-wall construction, only for the president to flip-flop on us and abandon his plan because he decided he wanted more in the deal. Emergency? Obviously not.” [Waco Tribune-Herald, 2/16/19]

Savannah Morning News (GA) Editorial: Senate Must Take Stand On National Emergency Declaration To Protect Powers. “In a system based on checks and balances, Congress cowers in the corner. Or at the base of a wall. The Senate stands there this week. Regardless of senators’ feelings on a border wall, they must recognize the president’s national emergency declaration for the dare that it is. They should vote for the House resolution to overturn the order and then override Trump’s inevitable veto. Then they should craft a law the clearly outlines what can be considered a national emergency while at the same time lead efforts — legislative efforts — to improve our border security, wall and all.” [Savannah Morning News, 2/27/19]

Tampa Bay Times (FL) Editorial: Border Wall Is No Emergency. “It is not a national emergency just because President Donald Trump didn’t get his way on the border wall, and the president is putting at risk up to $177 million in projects at Florida’s military bases that he could shift and waste on a wall Congress has refused to fund. Congress should pass legislation aimed at blocking this power grab, and Republicans who support Trump’s abuse of executive authority should remember that the next time it is used this way they may not like the president or the issue. There is no national emergency on the U.S. border with Mexico. There is a humanitarian crisis, one of Trump’s making and one that isn’t solved by what he is doing.” [Tampa Bay Times, 2/19/19]

Lawrence Journal-World (KS) Editorial: Trump’s National Emergency Exposing Congress As A Constitutional Sham. “There are three equal branches. The Founders did not create a system where two of the branches follow the other. The national emergency debate, however, threatens that notion. This should be the issue that causes Congress to put aside partisan differences and rally around the all-time great unifier: self-interest. If Congress lets this national emergency declaration stand and lets the president spend money for a purpose that Congress has specifically disapproved, Congress will have given up a huge amount of its power. Even supporters of the emergency declaration seem to understand that this will create a powerful precedent that will be used by future presidents. If illegal immigration is a national emergency, is gun violence also one?” [Lawrence Journal-World, 3/06/19]

Kansas City Star (MO) Editorial: Will Missouri And Kansas Senators Uphold The Constitution And Block Trump Emergency? “Instead, it is a referendum on the doctrine of separation of powers laid out in the U.S. Constitution. When the House voted on Tuesday, only 13 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to protect that key to our democracy. To allow a president, any president, to snatch the power of the purse away from Congress ought to be unthinkable, and until now, it has been. … No, this isn’t even a choice between principles and party. Someday soon, the GOP will need to be able to look back and say that even at some cost, you upheld the Constitution instead of only talking about it.” [Kansas City Star, 2/28/19]

York Dispatch (PA) Editorial: The number that terrifies Pat Toomey. “Trump's national emergency declaration is, by any measure, a broadside at the separation of powers and congressional authority. And it's Congress' duty to confront a White House that's shown nothing but contempt for the government's other branches. … The proposed border wall is terrible policy that exists only because Trump discovered that exploiting the prejudices of millions was easier than drafting fully formed ideas. Don't take our word for it. Ask John Kelly, who until recently was Trump's chief of staff. Just this past week, Kelly called the multi-billion-dollar cash-grab a ‘waste of money.’ It's so disliked among those atop the government that it went nowhere during two years of total Republican dominance in Washington.” [York Dispatch, 3/13/19]

Portsmouth Herald (NH) Editorial: Phony Emergency Creates Some Very Real Problems. “Our politically diverse editorial board is unanimous in its rejection of President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border. The emergency is based in politics, not national security. The president is exceeding his constitutional authority by spending money Congress deliberately voted not to spend; he is setting a dangerous precedent that could be abused by future presidents and his actions jeopardize vital national defense initiatives including $223 million in essential construction projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.” [Portsmouth Herald, 2/25/19]

LA Times (CA) Editorial: Trump's National Emergency Is Fake And The GOP Knows It. Stop Him Before The Damage Is Done. “Trump is stretching that authority to the breaking point by using it not to address something unexpected or an actual national security crisis, but to reverse the will of Congress and erase a political defeat. That’s unconscionable. Trump’s imperious use of emergency powers will soon be challenged in both Congress and the courts, and rightly so. … Trump cares little about the long-term implications of the steps he takes. It’s all about his need to win now, consequences be damned. But lawmakers cannot abide this abuse of executive power, or else they’ll be conceding their control of the federal purse to the president — and praying the courts hand it back.” [LA Times, 2/15/19]

Orange County Register (CA) Editorial: Checking executive overreach shouldn't be a partisan issue. “Whatever the merits of the president’s desire for a border wall, no one should be content with a situation in which the president can, after failing to persuade Congress, simply declare a national emergency in order to free up money to advance favored projects. Presidential overreach should never be accepted and members of Congress should remember their oath isn’t to their party, but to the Constitution. That’s why the House of Representatives’ bipartisan 245-182 vote to block the president’s declaration was important. And that’s why it’s encouraging that many Republican senators have indicated their support for blocking the declaration. They should. Presidents head just one of three branches of our system of government. They can’t and shouldn’t get to do whatever they want, however they want.” [Orange County Register, 3/6/19]

Washington Post (DC) Editorial: Even Senators Who Back The Wall Should Reject Trump’s Emergency — For The Good Of The Country. “If both houses of Congress were to rebuke Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration, it would send a strong signal to the courts that lawmakers do not consider the nonexistent border crisis to be an emergency — and that the president is breaking the trust Congress placed in the executive branch when lawmakers delegated emergency powers to the White House. Legal proceedings are already underway. Such a vote might give judges more leeway to rule narrowly against Mr. Trump without abridging the president’s power to act in a true emergency later. The resolution’s passage might also deter future presidents from playing similar games with emergency powers. It is crucial that emergency declarations not become another partisan tool. When presidents need to mobilize people, resources and political will, an emergency declaration should inspire cooperation, not be easily dismissed. For the good of the country — and out of institutional self-respect — senators should reject Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration.” [Washington Post, 3/2/19]

Chicago Tribune (IL) Editorial: “With the Republican-led Senate soon expected to consider a resolution of disapproval, maybe this is the start of something that is long overdue: lawmakers claiming responsibility instead of ducking it.” [Chicago Tribune, 3/11/19]

Boston Globe (MA) Editorial: On A National Emergency For A Wall, GOP Senators Take On Trump’s Overreach. “The fact remains that the emergency declaration is not rooted in anything resembling facts (illegal crossings at the southern border are down significantly, from 1.6 million in 2000 to about 400,000 last year) but rather is an exercise in presidential petulance. … Words are cheap. A resounding vote against this emergency declaration by Senate Republicans concerned about the gross misuse of taxpayer funds and a vast expansion of presidential power might send a message to the man in the White House that there are limits to his excesses and to his abuse of authority. And that they can no longer be counted on to approve of either.” [Boston Globe, 3/4/19]

Boston Globe (MA) Editorial: A National Emergency For A Wall? No Way. “But there hasn’t been any major change at the border that could plausibly be called an emergency. In fact, the number of people detained at the border is down 75 percent since 2000, according to the US Border Patrol’s own data. The only emergency here is political: The president is desperate to deliver on a campaign promise. Still, some Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, want Congress to butt out — blessing, through inaction, the creation of a major new loophole for presidents to spend money without authorization. That would be a historic mistake. If Congress allows Trump to raid the Pentagon for a wall, there’s not much doubt that future presidents will take advantage of the precedent.” [Boston Globe, 2/6/19]

New York Times (NY) Editorial: A Trump-Made Emergency. “To repeat: The influx of migrant families at the southern border does not constitute a national security crisis, much less a bona fide emergency. There is, at this point, a worsening humanitarian crisis, actively fueled by the draconian policies of the administration. But the suffering on display requires thoughtful policy adjustments, not a steel monstrosity. … Confronted with this power grab, every lawmaker should be bellowing in alarm. Until recently, the threat of an ‘imperial presidency’ was of grave constitutional concern to Republicans, who spent much of President Barack Obama’s tenure accusing him of misusing executive authority on, among other matters, immigration, health care and the environment.” [New York Times, 2/14/19]

Columbus Dispatch (OH) Editorial: “Trump has threatened to veto the resolution if it passes. Nonetheless, such a rejection from Congress would be healthy for the nation’s constitutional order. Among other things, it’d demonstrate that the separation of powers still matters and that some Republican lawmakers — after two years of looking the other way — are willing to stand up to a president with no respect for constitutional boundaries.” [Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/19]

Salt Lake Tribune (UT) Editorial: The Border Crisis Isn’t In Mexico. It’s In Congress. “The president of the United States, misusing a law intended to allow him to act in situations where the normal deliberations of Congress would be too slow to respond, has declared a thoroughly bogus national emergency so that he can raid the bank accounts of the Pentagon and other departments to, he says, quickly build a wall separating this nation from that one. It is based on the groundless claim that we are being overwhelmed — World War Z style — by hordes of dangerous, drug-dealing, disease-carrying aliens. In a vote that is expected to come next week, Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Mike Lee should vote to cancel that declaration, as allowed by law. And, if the president vetoes that resolution, they should vote to override the veto. Respect for the Constitution and the limited government both senators say they favor demands no less.” [Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5/19]