Sen. Rand Paul said in a Fox News op-ed on Monday that he would join fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Thom Tillis in voting for legislation rejecting President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. While it was always expected that Collins and Murkowski would vote against the president – they have all but joined the Democratic Party since Trump came to Washington – Paul’s vote is somewhat less expected.
The Kentucky libertarian has been in the president’s corner more often than not over the last two years, and it was thought that he understood the importance of border security. Apparently, his concerns about the constitutional limitations of the Executive Branch outweigh the slow evaporation of our national sovereignty.
“Donald J. Trump agreed with me when he said in November 2014 that President Barack Obama couldn’t make a deal on immigration so ‘now he has to use executive action, and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overridden easily by the Supreme Court,’” Paul wrote. “I would literally lose my political soul if I decided to treat President Trump different than President Obama.
“I support President Trump. I supported his fight to get funding for the wall from Republicans and Democrats alike, and I share his view that we need more and better border security,” he continued. “However, I cannot support the use of emergency powers to get more funding, so I will be voting to disapprove of his declaration when it comes before the Senate.”
Look, we get it. We understand where Paul is coming from. He and a few other Republicans are stalwart defenders of Congress’s constitutional role, and they are loathe to see a president from either party take power away from Capitol Hill.
But that’s just NOT what’s going on here.
The National Emergencies Act, passed by Congress in the 1970s, already gives the President this authority. Trump is not carving out a new power for the Executive Branch, he is taking advantage of powers already provided him by Congress. He is doing so because Congress has failed to live up to its responsibilities – has failed to provide the funding necessary to protect this country’s borders. Trump is standing up for the American people, Paul is standing up for…precedent.
We like Rand, and we agree with his take on the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, and the social role of the federal government more often than not.
But he’s on the wrong side of history this time.