‘Congress has been ceding far too much power to the executive branch for decades…’
(Dan E. Way, Liberty Headlines) Utah’s Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee are stirring up a separation-of-powers battle with President Donald Trump over border wall funding.
Romney, who refused to endorse or vote for Trump in 2016 and said he might not again in 2020, and Lee, who introduced the Article One Act to curb presidential powers to issue emergency declarations under the National Emergencies Act, are distraught that $54 million appropriated for military construction projects will be shifted to build part of the border wall.
Trump declared an emergency at the border under powers delegated to him by Congress after lawmakers refused to budget his signature border wall project.
Lee and Romney were among a dozen Republican defectors who voted with Democrats to block Trump’s emergency declaration, triggering the president’s first veto.
The Supreme Court ruled in July that Trump could use $2.5 billion in military funding for wall construction.
Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have objected to Trump’s emergency declaration, saying Congress is constitutionally vested with the power of the purse.
The Article One Act would automatically end all future emergency declarations after 30 days unless Congress votes to extend the emergency, Lee and Romney said in a joint statement.
“Congress has been ceding far too much power to the executive branch for decades and it is far past time for Congress to restore the proper balance of power between the three branches,” Lee said.
Romney said Trump should seek congressional authorization for border wall funding, and diverting funds already appropriated undermined military readiness. Trump plans to redirect $26 million originally intended for Hill Air Force Base Composite Aircraft Antenna Calibration Facility, and $28 million for the Utah Test and Training Range Consolidated Mission Control Center.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, supported Trump.
“We continue to face a very real crisis at the southern border. I regret that the President has been forced to divert funding for our troops to address the crisis” because of congressional gridlock, Thornberry said in a statement.
The troops will pay for Washington’s political discord if Congress doesn’t restore the funding, he said.
U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blamed Democrats’ refusal to fund immigration law enforcement. He said he will work to restore the military funding in future budgets, and to get money for the wall.
And Republican members of Congress from Oklahoma issued a joint release stating that a small arms range planned for the state, whose funding would be redirected to the border, was worth the temporary sacrifice.
“Oklahoma’s military installations are strong and the project that would be impacted by the completion of the border wall will not hinder the capabilities at our Oklahoma military bases,” said Sen. James Lankford.