WASHINGTON — The House voted this week on a resolution to disapprove President Donald Trump’s declaration for a national emergency along the southern border. I am explaining why I made the difficult decision to disapprove of this type of unilateral executive action.
I support building the wall. Physical barriers and walls work to protect our security, combat human trafficking, stop the flow of drugs, and encourage legal immigration. Suggestions to tear down existing walls and policies for open borders will not keep Americans safe. That’s why I’ve voted more than a dozen times, including for $25 billion in wall funding, to provide the administration the resources it needs to build the wall and secure the border.
It’s Congress’ job to provide the resources our nation needs to keep us safe, and that will continue to be my priority.
Democrats have pushed for zero wall money, open borders and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These policies make our nation vulnerable and threaten our security, and it’s a tragedy. So, I don’t blame President Trump from proposing extreme measures to respond to their extreme policies and tactics.
However, I cannot approve of this unilateral action by the president — just as I could not approve of such unilateral action by any president.
I am 100 percent for the Constitution and the rule of law. Whether it’s for border security or protecting the balance of powers in the Constitution, upholding the rule of law is foundational to our system of government. I take this seriously because disregard for the law only leads to more abuse, dysfunction and corruption. Congress must reassert itself as the primary branch of government.
I am 100 percent with President Trump for building the wall, but this declaration maintains the status quo. Securing our border is foundational to who we are as a sovereign nation. Unfortunately, this national emergency declaration tests the limits of executive authority and could be tied up in the courts for years with no guarantee judges will rule in our favor for the wall.
Unilateral executive actions undermine representative government. As we depart from constitutional principles of governance by the people, Congress becomes more dysfunctional and power concentrates in one branch of government. That’s why I was against the previous administration using a pen and phone to act alone on DACA, reappropriate money to implement Obamacare and, in my opinion, regulate every mud puddle in America. Remember, the previous president initially said he couldn’t act alone on DACA because he wasn’t a king or an emperor. After a robust debate in Congress, he flip-flopped and took executive action. His executive action took away Congress’s authority to act and DACA still isn’t solved.
Unilateral executive actions turn Representatives into bystanders. Article I of the Constitution gives the legislative branch the exclusive power to make laws and set funding priorities. When that power is delegated to the executive or judicial branches, Representatives become irrelevant and so do you. When Congress is marginalized, “We, the People” are minimized as governance falls to a powerful executive branch. We are powerless against a faceless bureaucrat.
It sets a bad precedent that when the legislative branch doesn’t reach an agreement, it’s OK for the executive branch to act unilaterally. Where does that take us? Gov. Jay Inslee has already said he would be willing to declare a national emergency on climate change, allowing drastic federal action that would never have to be approved by Congress.
What would this precedent mean for the future? What if, without my say or any congressional approval, a future president used a national emergency to take money from our VA clinics, Fairchild Air Force Base or forest management at the Colville National Forest to force the Green New Deal on the American people?
Bottom line: It’s Congress’s job to provide the resources our nation needs to keep us safe, and that is my priority. We need to secure the border, and I will continue to vote for President Trump’s border security priorities.
To achieve these goals, we need a solution that won’t get held up in court, doesn’t weaken your voice in Congress, and won’t minimize your ability to hold the federal government accountable.
My vote to disapprove of unilateral executive action had nothing to do with the merits of building President Trump’s wall — I support it.
It was a vote based on my deeply held conviction that we must reassert the people’s ability to speak through their representatives in Congress. That’s the best way to keep us free and protect our liberty. It’s our call to put aside any personal ambition or partisan divides, so individual power is protected and the next generation can freely pursue their own version of the American Dream.
It isn’t about political parties, personalities, or power — it never has been. It’s about making certain the Promise of America is never breached and knowing the only ones who can preserve it are “We, the People.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, represents the 5th Congressioal District, which includes Walla Walla and Columbia counties. This column was adapted from her a posting on her Facebook page.