The wins just keep a-coming for Donald Trump, and this time he’s not alone. Democrats in the House failed to override Trump’s veto of their bill rescinding his declaration of emergency on the southern border. The failure means Trump keeps the authority to redirect funding from the Pentagon for building his “big, beautiful” border wall.
At least, he can build it unless and until the courts stop it:
An effort by House Democrats to override President Donald Trump’s first veto has failed. That hands him a victory because his declaration of a national emergency at the Southwest border will remain in effect.
The Democratic-controlled chamber has voted 248-181 in favor of overriding Trump’s veto. That fell 38 votes short of the 286 needed for Democrats and their handful of Republican allies to prevail, because a two-thirds majority was needed.
Besides Trump, the happiest man in Washington after this vote has to be Mitch McConnell. Had Nancy Pelosi managed to get the two-thirds necessary to override the veto in the lower chamber, McConnell would have faced enormous pressure to schedule a vote in the Senate. He managed to keep Republican defections on the rescission down to a dozen members the first time around, and it’s not likely there would have been more than a couple more who would have added themselves on an override. Still, McConnell would have been forced to waste more time and more political capital to preserve an emergency declaration he didn’t want in the first place.
So hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to court we go … which is what Pelosi claims the effort was intended to support:
“Whether we can succeed with the number of votes is not the point. We are establishing the intent of Congress,” she said at an event in New York last week during the congressional recess. “The president has decided to be in defiance of the Constitution, to deface it with his actions.”
Pelosi said that Tuesday’s vote could help Democrats’ case in the long-term. “Establishing the intent of Congress will help us in the court of law and in the court of public opinion,” she said.
That might be true in district court, but it may not matter much in appellate levels. In fact, the failure of the override might convince the courts that the matter properly belongs in the political rather than judicial realm. The National Emergencies Act makes no definition or boundaries on what constitutes an emergency, after all; it only provides Congress with the ability to counter it through a rescission. They’ve done that, and the president vetoed it, and Congress even had the opportunity to overturn it. The override couldn’t be sustained politically, but that doesn’t give the judiciary an entrée to interfere with powers that the legislature freely granted the executive 43 years ago, and to which Congress has never objected until now.
The real lesson from this is that the NEA was a terrible piece of legislation and needs to be repealed or greatly reformed. Perhaps losing the override will prompt bipartisan talks about how to prevent these “emergencies” in the future. That would be a win all around … if Pelosi and McConnell are interested in finding one.