The Congress sent a message to the White House Tuesday: The Constitution awarded the Congress, not the president, the power of the purse. House Joint Resolution 46 would deny the president his declaration of emergency. It passed the House with 245 votes for and 182 against.
Rep. Sheila Jackson, D-Texas, a cosponsor of the resolution of disapproval, said the language of the presidential emergency order was precise, something that could one day be used to declare a national emergency for gun violence or another issue. “But we do have that,” she said. This emergency order was issued when border arrests are in decline. She said the president is “distorting” the will of Congress with a manufactured emergency.
But Republican leaders said that the resolution -- all of one page -- should have had hearings in committee and more time for consideration.
Rep. Bob Woodall, R-Georgia, said it the resolution only took a minute and six seconds a to read. “The National Emergency Act allows the president to extraordinary things when there is a national emergency,” he said. “Congress delegated to him that power.” Woodall said that a national emergency is not all that unusual, adding there are declarations in effect from the Carter administration.
But Democrats said the difference in President Trump’s emergency was that he was spending money that was not appropriated by Congress.
Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, D-New Mexico, tweeted that she would vote for the House resolution. “The President's #FakeEmergency could cost Kirtland Air Force base important funding to update the Wyoming entrance gate as part of a total potential $132 million being stolen from New Mexico's military installations.” she said.
Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho Chunk, D-Kansas, also voted for the resolution, saying it was a bipartisan bill to support and defend the Constitution and the core principle of separation of powers. “The president’s use of an emergency declaration to build his ineffective wall -- with money intended for the military -- is dangerous to national security and our democracy,” she said. “Border security is extremely important, which is why I supported a bipartisan funding package to fund smart and effective security at our borders and keep our government open. The president’s decision to reject this bipartisan, bicameral package and instead circumvent the Constitution to declare an emergency undermines both the will of the American people and one of the most important principles of our democratic government.”
However all but 13 Republicans stuck with the president (who has said he will veto the legislation if it is passed by the Senate. The Senate must take up within 18 days and vote on the measure.)
Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, said the president was acting within his authority. “President Trump preferred a legislative solution to securing our border. Unfortunately, Democrats refused to negotiate in good faith and authorize the necessary funding for the solutions the country needs,”Cole said. “By declaring a national emergency and not unlike past presidents, President Trump is acting well within his authority under the National Emergencies Act. As usual, Democrats have signaled that they are more interested in opposing the president than confronting a real humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border for American people.”
“Presidents of the United States have the lawful right to declare a national emergency in times of great crisis,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, R-Oklahoma. “Ninety percent of all heroin in the United States comes through our porous southern border. Over 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. There were 1.7 million pounds of narcotics seized by Customs and Border Protection during fiscal year 2018. Without a doubt, our county is in the midst of a crisis.
“Presidents since Jimmy Carter have declared national emergencies for any number of reasons—both foreign and domestic. They range from declarations on the blood diamond trade in Sierra Leone by President Bill Clinton to the swine flu epidemic and the threat of criminal cartels at our southern border declared by President Barack Obama,” Mullin said. “This politically motivated charade put on by House Democrats must end. We must build the wall in order to combat the crisis at our southern border.”
Thirteen Republicans voted with the majority, including Rep. Cathy Rodgers, R-Washington. She said the emergency declaration could allow a liberal president to act on climate change.
Across the Capitol, the U.S. Senate confirmed Eric Miller to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That vote was 53 in favor to 46 against.
The nomination was controversial for several reasons. Both senators from Washington, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, spoke against the nomination. Cantwell objected to the practice of ignoring the “blue slip” tradition, which allows home-state senators to have input in judicial selections.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said it was the first time that the Senate had ignored the blue slip tradition.
Durbin cited the movie “Roma” and the treatment of Native Americans. “What does this have to do with this nominee?” He asked, “In a rare moment, the National Congress of American Indians opposed this nomination. ‘“Our concern is that [Miller] chose to build a law practice on mounting repeated challenges to tribal sovereignty, lands, religious freedom, and the core attribute of federal recognition of tribal existence. His advocacy has focused on undermining the rights of Indian tribes, often taking extreme positions and using pejorative language to denigrate tribal rights. Indeed, his law firm website touts his record, with over half his private practice achievements coming at the expense of tribal governments,” said NCAI and NARF leadership.’”
Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, also voted no and spoke against the nominee. He said “Miller has donated over 675 hours of pro-bono work against Tribal sovereignty, against Native religious practices, federal recognition, and numerous other respected tribal doctrines. For example … Mr. Miller argued [before the Supreme Court] that tribal governments are not entitled to sovereign immunity… demonstrat[ing] that he does not understand the inherent sovereignty of our tribal nations.” Udall concluded: “Mr. Miller’s record on tribal issues is one-sided and extreme. His history of advocating against tribal interests does not give me confidence that he would be a fair and impartial jurist on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals when tribes come before him. I will vote no on Eric Miller’s confirmation and urge my colleagues to do so as well.”
The National Law Journal said: "Miller’s confirmation marks another win for conservatives, who have aggressively pushed to confirm judges over Democratic complaints about processing picks. Under the Trump administration, 31 federal appeals court nominees have been confirmed."
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports
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