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Senate Vote Is Powerful Rejection of Trump’s Illegal Use of Emergency Powers, Authoritarianism

March 14, 2019

Senate Vote Is Powerful Rejection of Trump’s Illegal Use of Emergency Powers, Authoritarianism

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: The U.S. Senate voted today to block President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. Public Citizen filed the first lawsuit challenging the declaration.

Today’s vote is a major blow to President Donald Trump’s autocratic ambitions.

If Trump is able to get away with his fake emergency to build a pointless and racist wall in contravention of Congress’ explicit decision not to fund the project, then there’s every reason to suspect he will cry “emergency” in the future, for even more nefarious ends.

Today’s action hopefully will arrest, and certainly will slow, that slide to authoritarianism.

Trump is sure to veto the resolution of disapproval. Public Citizen will join with our allies in pressuring every member of Congress to vote to override that veto, and shame on any member who fails to do so, in light of the evident unconstitutionality of Trump’s actions.

Whether or not Congress overrides the veto, passage of the resolution of disapproval is a powerful political rejection of Trump’s illegal and improper use of emergency powers and more generally of his authoritarianism and disregard for the Constitution.

In a desperate bid to protect their party’s president, Republican senators sought a deal to permit this constitutional infringement in exchange for commonsense reforms to the National Emergencies Act. That Trump rejected even that deal is yet more evidence of his belief that his powers should be unconstrained – and a disturbing sign that he wants to preserve maximum freedom to declare fake emergencies in the future.

The American people don’t want a racist border wall, and by overwhelming numbers they oppose Trump’s emergency declaration. They rose up and made their voices clear, and as a result the Senate today has responded to protect our constitutional values.

Public Citizen has sued to block implementation of the emergency declaration, as have other organizations and states and cities. We believe the courts should and will find the declaration illegal and unconstitutional.

But the ultimate guarantee of our constitutional democracy and a just society is not the courts, but the people. We the People will continue to mobilize to stop Trump’s attacks on immigrants, his cruelty and his unconstitutional power grabs – whether Trump uses fake “emergency” claims or any other means.