Republicans in Congress are about to lose a game by avoiding an obvious triple play.
Left-wingers are gloating over the prospect that a majority of both Houses of Congress may pass a resolution disapproving President Trump’s border wall national emergency declaration. It is tempting, especially for Conservatives, to cheer the assertion by Congress of its power — long dormant because of politicians’ hardwired fear of doing anything that someone, even someone living on the moon, might not like.
Even after successful passage, however, the resolution is not likely to become law: Trump will surely veto it. Eventually the Supreme Court may get a chance to opine: the smart money is, like it or not, on Trump’s winning.
Almost certainly, every Democrat who votes for the resolution is simply casting an anti-Trump vote. When was the last time you heard a Democrat complain about excessive power in the executive (or even excessive power in any part of government, except perhaps the police)? Certainly not during the age of Obama. This resolution is just another swipe at the democratically elected president, as well as part of the Democrats’ continuing attempt to flood the country with illegal aliens who, they assume (and probably correctly) will then vote Democrat to express their thanks. Wouldn’t you under those circumstances?
Support by Republicans of this resolution curtailing the president’s power is more difficult to understand, and demonstrates their inherent clumsiness when it comes to governing. Yes, of course, in theory, Republicans should be opposed to the massive ongoing abdication of congressional power to the executive branch, whether to the president or the departments or the so-called independent regulatory agencies.
But for decades, Congress, with Republican connivance, has essentially directed the executive branch to manage everything — and call us in the morning (not too early please) if (actually “when”) you run out of money.
Now there are stirrings. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) said: “I support President Trump. I supported his fight to get funding for the wall from Republicans and Democrats alike, and I share his view that we need more and better border security.
“However, I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate.
“Every single Republican I know decried President Obama’s use of executive power to legislate. We were right then. But the only way to be an honest officeholder is to stand up for the same principles no matter who is in power.”
That’s noble, but voting to support this measure allows Democrats to dress up as enthusiasts of limited executive power — and it’s not even Halloween. We should applaud Republican efforts to take back congressional power, but at the same time, we should urge them to be a bit cleverer in the way they do it.
There is a way to (1) achieve a good goal (retrieve congressional power); (2) not diss the president; and (3) expose the hypocrisy of the Democrats — a triple play.
Republicans should amend the bill to have it take effect Jan. 20, 2021, i.e., when the president who is elected in 2020 takes office. That president may be Donald Trump. But it might be Joe Biden. That would make the bill strictly nonpartisan. Every Republican could vote for that bill. But would the Democrats? And if they did not, it would be plain that their support for this current resolution is only about thwarting Trump, not about recalibrating the distribution of power in Washington.
This country can survive one more excessive use of executive power. What will be more difficult to survive is campaigning by neo-socialist Democrats masquerading as limited government enthusiasts.
So yes, vote for this bill, but have it take effect in 2021.
Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.