Tom Cotton Gets the Debate Over President Trump's Emergency Declaration Exactly Right

Screengrab from

Screengrab from


Yesterday, the Senate voted 59-41 to rescind President Trump’s declaration of a state of emergency on our southern border. Twelve Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with Chuck Schumer and the Democrats against the proposition that a legitimate emergency exists. They were Lamar Alexander (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Lee (UT), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Marco Rubio (FL), Pat Toomey (PA), and Roger Wicker (MS).


After the vote, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had this to say

The minority leader called the president’s emergency declaration “a lawless act” that showed “naked contempt for the rule of law.” Other members of the self-styled “Resistance” have compared the president to Hitler.

Curious, overheated claims, I have to say. To be “lawless,” after all, one must act outside the law. Yet the president’s critics don’t even bother making that case, probably because they don’t have much of one to make. The president isn’t purporting to invoke his inherent executive powers under Article II of the Constitution. He doesn’t even claim to defend his constitutional prerogatives from legislative encroachment.

On the contrary, he is only exercising the statutory authority delegated to him by us. By this very body: the United States Congress.

He goes on to say:

Now, I’m sympathetic to arguments that the National Emergencies Act is too broad and gives the executive branch too much power. That’s a reasonable debate to have. Believe me, Congress has ceded too much power to the executive for more than a century, expanding an administrative state that increasingly deprives our people of a meaningful say in their government. So I invite my Democratic colleagues to reconsider the wisdom of this path. Maybe we can reform the EPA. Perhaps we can require up-or-down votes in Congress to approve big regulations so politicians can show some accountability for once. I’m ready for those debates. Believe me, I’m ready. But in the meantime, don’t pretend we didn’t delegate all these powers, or that it’s lawless for the executive to use laws we passed, just because you deplore him.


He is exactly right. President Trump followed the law in declaring an emergency. The fact that this particular emergency declaration was selected at a time when the Border Patrol and ICE agents are overwhelmed and some federal judges are carrying out lawfare against current immigration policies, makes this all this seem less than sincere. If their issue is with the emergency declaration process then they should have voted to change the process. If they wanted to prevent Emergency Declarations from being used to move funds from one appropriation account to another, they could have. But they elected to target precisely one emergency declaration of the 31 (or 28 or 32) currently in effect.

This is exactly, one thing. It is intended as a personal rebuke of a president by people who don’t like him and don’t care very much for the people who support him.


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