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GOP Establishment Squirms After Trump’s Emergency Declaration

Trump Wall Rally Nicholas KammAFPGetty Images
Nicholas Kamm/FP/Getty Images
NEIL MUNRO

The GOP’s business-first wing is complaining about President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, despite the agreement by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support it.

The pushback began immediately after Trump announced that he would sign the flawed 2019 border security budget because he got McConnell’s agreement to support the emergency declaration. The budget — which was negotiated by McConnell’s deputies — provides funds for only 55 miles of border wall. The budget also requires that gaps be built in the wall and gives Texas Democrats a temporary veto over construction.

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, showed his opposition on the February 17 broadcast of NBC’s Sunday Meet the Press show. He said:

I think many of us are concerned about this. I think Congress, past Congresses have given any executive, any administration way too much power. And this would be another expansion of that power. That’s why you see an awful lot of us concerned about this.

But Johnson — who has pushed a 2017 draft law that would import a huge number of skilled foreign workers to displace Americans — then admitted that Trump is on the right side of the law:

Chuck Todd: Is the president’s move unconstitutional in your view?

Johnson: No, I don’t think so. Again, it’s certainly the expansion of authority Congress has given past presidents, this president has the same authority. I wish he wouldn’t use it in this case.

Listen, I regret that past Congresses have given the president, any president, a lot of its, Congress’s constitutional authority. It’s done it on tariffs, it’s done in this case. It’s done in many cases. We should have three co-equal branches. Right now, the presidency is probably the most powerful, and then the Court. And Congress is really diminished. And we should start taking back that Congressional authority. It’d be, it’d return that balance. But that’s the way it is.

Johnson also admitted the legitimacy of Trump’s demand, saying “Let’s face it. If this president can claim a mandate on anything he ran on, it’s exactly this issue, better barriers and securing our border.”

GOP Rep. Will Hurd was invited on Face the Nation to denounce  Trump’s policy. “I don’t think we needed a national emergency declaration,” Hurd he told host Margaret Brennan on February 17.  “This is a problem that has existed before Ronald Reagan.” He continued:

In the great state of Texas we care about a little thing called private property and there’s going to be over 1,000 ranchers and farmers potentially impacted if the government comes in and takes their land, and this is how they do it. They say “hey we need this land. Here’s what we’re going to give you.” …  we’re going to be ceding one point one million acres of arable land.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s tremendous.

However, Hurd admitted that Congress has given emergency powers to the President;

Unfortunately, a Congress that existed before I was born, usurped some of their power, gave some of their power away to the executive branch …

I’m always open to making sure that Congress takes back some of this power as a coequal branch of government.

In 2017 and 2018, Hurd pushed multiple amnesty plans, and he opposed multiple reforms and border wall proposals, including the pro-American, comprehensive immigration reform plan drafted in 2018 by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

Trump’s emergency declaration comes after McConnell and his GOP Senators refused to fight for a border wall in 2017 and 2018, and then also botched the 2019 spending talks. According to an article in the New York Times:

President Trump awoke in a rage Thursday [February 14], feeling cornered into accepting a bipartisan funding deal struck earlier in the week that would deprive him once again of money for his long-promised wall along the southwestern border. Conservative commentators who had been cajoled into accepting the deal Wednesday were breaking their silence on Thursday.

By midmorning, after a particularly unpleasant meeting with the secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, the president was threatening to torpedo the deal, according to two people briefed on the exchange. Several hours and several phone calls later, McConnell had persuaded Mr. Trump to once again agree to sign the bill to avert another government shutdown looming at midnight Friday.

But persuasion came at a price: The president would declare a national emergency to try to secure wall funding without congressional approval, he told the majority leader — and Mr. McConnell would have to back him.

Trump’s national emergency is also being denounced by Jonah Goldberg, a pro-migration author at National Review. Goldberg’s argument is logical, but it ignores the bipartisan establishment’s central role in forcing the damaging economic, civic and political policies which prompted the emergency declaration by the former real estate investor. “I think it’s an atrocity,” Never Trump Goldberg told NBC on February 17:

There’s never been a national emergency invoked as an excuse to deliberately do an end-run around Congress, Congress’s intent. Congress has spoken here. And if you listen to the sort of pro-Trump, you know, caucus, what Congress passed is outrageous because it’s going to make illegal immigration worse in some ways, but he signed it. And then he just said, “But I’m going to do all this other stuff.” That is monarchical. It is exactly against the spirit of the Constitution. And I don’t care if the courts ultimately approve this. It is still terrible because it is just simply a violation of how the system is supposed to work.

The arguments against Trump’s emergency are being provided by establishment activists. “If Trump can declare an emergency to expropriate land and build his wall, some future president will be able to declare an emergency to shut coal mines and build windmills,” wrote Chris Truax, one of the founders of Republicans for the Rule of Law, an anti-Trump group which is “fighting to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation from political interference.”

White House aides deny the “bad precedent” argument.

Jennifer Rubin, another Never Trump activist for cheap labor, slammed Johnson and other Republicans for not opposing Trump’s emergency. Johnson’s answers on NBC were “cringe-worthy,” she wrote, but then admitted that “the GOP is the party of Trump and his sycophants, not of constitutional conservatism, limited government or any other defining principle.”

In 2013, Rubin supported the “Gang of Eight” amnesty, which would have doubled legal immigration, allowed employers to import an unlimited number of foreign college graduates, and shifted wealth from employees to investors. The unpopular amnesty was fully backed by the D.C. establishment — including the media. But it was so unpopular that it was blocked by GOP opposition, helped the Democrats lose nine Senate seats in 2014, and also allowed Donald Trump to defeat the D.C. establishment, dominate the GOP, and walk into the Oval Office.

On Inauguration Day, Trump promised a “Hire American” policy. The policy has successfully pushed Americans’ wages up three percent in 2018 by denying companies a flood of extra foreign workers

That wage increase is a problem for business groups. For example, FWD.us, which is founded by West Coast technology investors, wants more imported workers and opposes Trump’s wall-building emergency:

Business and investor groups strongly back the federal government’s economic policy of using both legal and illegal migration to boost economic growth. But that policy also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor.

That annual inflow of roughly one million legal immigrants — as well as the population of two million visa workers and eight million working illegal immigrants — floods the labor market. The flood spikes profits and Wall Street values by shrinking salaries for 150 million blue-collar and white-collar employees and especially wages for the four million young Americans who join the labor force each year.

The federal government’s cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that coastal investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices and pushes poor Americans, including Latinos and blacks, out of prosperous cities such as Berkeley and Oakland.

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