Republican Susan Collins introduces Senate bill to stop Trump's border wall emergency declaration

Collins is against Trump's declaration of a national emergency for his US-Mexico border wall

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 28, 2019 4:24PM (EST)
Donald Trump; Susan Collins (Getty/Alex Wong/Nicholas Kamm)
Donald Trump; Susan Collins (Getty/Alex Wong/Nicholas Kamm)

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate who became the source of controversy last year when she supported Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, has defied the wishes of her party by opposing President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency.

"The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall. It is not whether to support or oppose President Trump. Rather, it is this: do we the executive branch, now or in the future, want to hold the power that the founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?" Collins said on the floor of the Senate, according to Roll Call. She co-sponsored legislation to terminate the national emergency with Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico. Collins has been joined by other Republicans who wish to end the national emergency, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky wrote on Twitter that "I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters. Over 1,000 pages dropped in the middle of the night and extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them." Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has explained that "we have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution" and warned that a future Democratic president could "use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal."

Her sentiments have also been echoed by more than a dozen House Republicans, including Rep. Will Hurd of Texas.

"Our government was designed for the most ultimate power, the power of the purse, to reside within Congress. And we shouldn't have an executive — I don't care if it's Republican or Democrat — that tries to get around Congress with this national emergency declaration," Hurd explained on CBS' "Face the Nation." Overall a bipartisan group of 225 House members have signed a joint declaration to put an end to Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the border, including many Republicans who support the border wall but not this method of getting it built.

Indeed, Democrats have acknowledged that if the precedent is established for Trump to build his border wall using a declaration of a national emergency, they could utilize that to achieve their own policy goals.

"It's one of the many conundrums of being a Republican under the Trump administration," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told Salon earlier this month. "He has such a grip on the base of the party that I think many of my colleagues are obliged to go against deeply held beliefs and principles of many, many years, and it is a very unusual position for them to be in. But if it turns out to be a precedent, it could be a very powerful tool for the next Democratic president to address emergencies that have caused much more loss of life and portends much direr consequences, like domestic mass shootings or climate change like the Green New Deal."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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