For the most part congressional Republicans are quietly going along with the idea of the president declaring a national emergency over his frustrated plans for a border wall. That could enable them to bypass the apparently intractable three-way deadlock with Democrats and with the White House over border security, DACA, and associated issues, and then quickly reopen the federal government before the combination of unpaid employees and contractors and unfilled benefits and services begins to seriously complicate their lives.
Marco Rubio, though, is a rare voice publicly voicing what are likely a lot of private concerns about the broader implications of a national-emergency declaration. No, he’s not afraid that Trump will abuse the powers he would instantly obtain thanks to decades of congressional grants of emergency executive authority. Rubio’s afraid of the precedent it would set for a Democrat, as CNBC reports:
The Florida Republican contended that Trump was elected on the promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the president has to “keep that promise.” But “we have to be careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power,” he added. “I’m not prepared to endorse that right now.”
Such a declaration would set a precedent, Rubio said. “If today, the national emergency is border security … tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change.”
Imagine that! A “national emergency” declaration over an actual national emergency. 2020 presidential aspirant Jay Inslee may have found his silver bullet for elevating this issue to one that mobilizes the full resources of the federal government and concentrates public attention on a truly existential threat. An unnecessary and offensive border wall might be worth it after all.