HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS DENIES EXECUTIVE UNILATERAL ACTION AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER - ISSUE MOVES IN TWO DIRECTIONS - Development provides an opportunity to examine the issue top to bottom
To begin, let's frame the context of this political heavyweight bout. As we know, our federal government is comprised of three branches whereby each retains checks and balances over the other two: executive, legislative and judicial. Each possesses unique authority and powers and those responsibilities are calibrated and regulated by the other two branches. Given these fundamentals, at odds in this argument are the president's authority to declare a national emergency and unilaterally appropriate funding for a southern border barrier, which stands as an effort to circumvent one of the most significant and treasured powers in all of the federal government - the 'power of the purse' or, in other words, the authority to appropriate and spend federal dollars. Obviously, Congress is fighting tooth and nail to preserve that power.
Frankly, both President Trump and Congress are correct in digging-in their heels in an unrelenting way. To begin, President Trump's situational analysis is accurate - the data suggests dire southern border problems that will only continue and compound. Regardless, Congress should be fighting tooth and nail to protect the power of the purse - it's essential to the functioning of our Constitutional Republic. That said, Congress leaves President Trump with little to no other options as the 'Uniparty' (Deep State Globalists comprised of both Republicans and Democrats) have wreaked havoc on this country culturally, economically and psychologically with its open-borders and lawless approach. Just crack open a newspaper and the negative effects of open borders and unfettered illegal immigration can be found in essentially every corner of the country.
So yes, Congress should be fighting to protect the 'power of the purse.' Their ulterior agenda and complete unreasonableness regarding already existing immigration laws that they refuse to allow to be enforced (recall, the Executive is the chief law enforcement officer in the US; however, Congress is impeding his efforts to fulfill these responsibilities) leave the president no other options as he legally and rightfully seeks to redress an issue plaguing the country; with significant and broad support from the voters.
On February 15th, 2019 President Trump issued his proclamation for the national emergency (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-declaring-national-emergency-concerning-southern-border-united-states/.) One month later to the day, he stood by that proclamation and supported it with the aforementioned data (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-stands-declaration-national-emergency-southern-border/.) On the same day, March 15th, President Trump vetoed the bipartisan legislative effort designed to terminate the national emergency declaration (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/veto-message-house-representatives-h-j-res-46/.)
Ten days later, on March 25th, 2019, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan issued a press release detailing his authorization of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction on 57 miles of a southern border barrier. Mr. Shanahan authorized the,
"...commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1 billion in support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection. These funds will be used to support DHS’s request to build 57 miles of 18-foot-high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border in support of the February 15 national emergency declaration on the southern border of the United States."Source: https://dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1795239/dod-authorizes-support-to-counter-drug-border-security/
Mr. Shanahan's authorization is predicated on President Trump's previously issued declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, which continues to stand in question. When President Trump vetoed the bi-partisan legislation rejecting Congress' efforts to terminate the declaration ergo the unilateral executive action, it forced Congress' hand. The only recourse left for Congress was to overturn the veto and that unsuccessful effort was voted upon in the House of Representatives on March 26th, 2019. Here's the voting record for that failed attempt: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2019/roll127.xml
The significance of the House's failure to overturn President Trump's national emergency declaration has several consequences and sets the course for how the southern border dispute will continue: a) the president's constitutional authority, despite attempts to usurp it, is retained, b) the president will likely continue carefully moving in this direction as he works with DHS and the Pentagon, c) the fight now moves in two directions: transitioning to the courts while simultaneously playing-out legislatively.
The move to the courts represents the first direction this battle will go. Ultimately and regardless as to how many suits are filed and how deep the Left looks to pack the dockets with lawsuit after lawsuit, the matter will be determined in the Supreme Court. President Trump's recently confirmed Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will factor heavily into this outcome.
The second direction this battle goes is the continuation on the legislative front. Assuming the Left is unable to stem the president's unilateral reach, they will coalesce around an effort to attack funding at the committee level, which is precisely what we're seeing. Again, this is all rooted in protecting the 'power of the purse.' Consider:
1. A March 12th press release from ranking members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations set the stage for the legislative wrangling,
"Today, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, led a group of Democratic appropriators calling on the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a list of military projects it intends to defund to pay for President Trump’s ineffective border wall."Source: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/minority/leahy-durbin-schatz-senators-demand-answers-from-dod-on-its-plans-to-defund-military-projects-to-pay-for-trump-wall
2. A March 26th press release from the House Armed Services Committee states,
“DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall, and the military is paying the cost."Source: (https://armedservices.house.gov/press-releases?ID=5E016941-7EE3-4FEC-98DE-165162115E67)
3. A March 26th House Committee on Appropriations press release from Wasserman Schultz states,
"Unfortunately, the request also includes $7.2 billion dollars for construction of a wasteful border wall in OCO, in which would be $3.6 billion dollars for a new installment of the wall and $3.6 billion dollars to back fill the projects whose money was stolen to fund this boondoggle.Source: https://appropriations.house.gov/news/press-releases/chairwoman-wasserman-schultz-statement-at-military-installations-and-brac
"Let me be clear. I do not intend to use MilCon dollars to fund this wall, and if the Administration follows through and steals money from previously approved projects, the Chairwoman’s mark will not provide funding for backfill.
"It is troubling that the Administration would want to use the military construction program to construct a wall when the program has ranged from only 1% to 4.6% of the total Department of Defense budget since 1990."
4. A March 26th House Committee on Appropriations press release from McCollum states,
"For the Administration to offer these proposals to recklessly slash federal budgets is a disservice to the country. This is not a thoughtful consideration about what funding levels are actually needed to carry out the mission of the Department. Instead, this is nothing more than an exercise in how to hit an arbitrary allocation passed down from OMB. It’s clear that the Administration is embarrassed by its disastrous management of the deficit, which is expected to top $1 trillion this year, and now the President is trying to balance the budget by slashing funding for our national parks and public lands to finance his tax cuts for the wealthy and to fund his border wall."Source: https://appropriations.house.gov/news/press-releases/chair-mccollum-statement-at-hearing-on-department-of-the-interior-budget-request
5. A March 27th House Committee on Appropriations press release from Visclosky states,
"House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-IN) today denied the Department of Defense’s request to use Defense funds for an unauthorized wall on the southern border of the United States."Source: https://appropriations.house.gov/news/press-releases/visclosky-denies-request-to-use-defense-funds-for-unauthorized-border-wall
It's not at all surprising that we're seeing all of this emanate from the House of Representatives and specifically, the Committee on Appropriations. When you consider two specific facts, it makes perfect sense: a) the House is on strict lock-down per Speaker Pelosi and her chairmen are beholden to a nonnegotiable obstructionist agenda and b) the Committee on Appropriations has jurisdiction over funding as it is responsible for, "for writing the laws that fund the federal government's important responsibilites (sic)." Anyone else find it richly ironic that such an esteemed committee misspelled the "responsibilities" they tout and look to defend?
Looking forward, expect the legislative wrangling to continue as the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court, will shine the final light on this necessary matter of national security. Until then, the president will likely continue to do as much as he can as permitted and limited by the circumstances in play.