Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor today that Donald Trump will sign the new border compromise, then declare a National Emergency at the border, and use Presidential powers under the Emergency declaration to fund at least part of his border wall. Demonstrating his central philosophical principle — party over country — McConnell announced his support for the move, meaning that the Senate will most likely not override Trump’s veto of any Congressional resolution of disapproval. (This resolution itself has time-limited debate, meaning it cannot be filibustered).
The outrageousness of the move cannot be overstated. If a patently false emergency can be concocted to allow the President to move money around, then it represents a pretty stunning abdication of the Congressional power of the purse.
But what goes around comes around. A President Harris, or Warren, or Booker, etc. etc. can just as easily declare a National Emergency on Climate Change — one that would have a far better factual predicate than Trump’s patently false border emergency — and he or she will a lot more money to move around. After all, a lot of the climate crisis is about infrastructure, and if the relevant statute allows the President to move money from one project to another, then it is very easy to do that. Or the $100 billion that DOD has for national security emergencies: given that both the Pentagon and the heads of the national intelligence agencies have already said that climate represents a serious national security challenge, it’s not a hard legal lift (assuming intellectually honest and consistent judges, which of course we cannot). This fund must be for a military purpose, and a smarter, more energy efficient energy grid could do the trick.
It’s no way to run a democracy. But Trump and the GOP have made it clear that they do not believe in democracy, and as Robert Axelrod demonstrated years ago in his classic book The Evolution of Cooperation, the best strategy in repeat-player games to facilitate cooperation is playing Tit-For-Tat.