Editorial:

‘Emergency’ declaration short-sighted

Posted

It can be difficult to “trust the process,” particularly when things aren’t going your way.

Rewriting the rules can be tempting, but it’s a dangerous game to play.

We believe President Donald Trump is playing with fire with his recent decision to free up funds for a border wall by declaring a national emergency.

The president has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the declaration, saying in part that they forced his hand by refusing to provide funding for a wall. Of course, the problems on our border are not new. It’s baffling as to why border security — one of Trump’s priorities on the 2016 campaign trail — wasn’t addressed in the first two years of his presidency, when his fellow Republicans controlled Congress.

Regardless, we suspect most Wyomingites continue to support the general concept of securing the border; and a good chunk of local residents might even agree with the president’s decision to declare an emergency.

But it’s short-sighted. If the decision stands up in court, we’ve set a terrible precedent for the future, where a president can basically ignore a “no” from Congress.

We expect the conservatives now cheering Trump’s unilateral action on the border won’t feel the same way when a liberal occupies the White House.

Just imagine the possibilities: the closure of all coal-fired power plants as part of a declared national emergency over carbon emissions and climate change — or the creation of “Medicare for All” because of a health care crisis.

To their credit, multiple Republicans have questioned the wisdom of funding border security via an emergency declaration — including our own U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who’s the third-ranking Republican in the Senate.

“I would prefer we get it done through the legislative process rather than a presidential emergency because I just think that’s not the path we want to go down,” Barrasso told K2 Radio earlier this month.

“Presidents have used it in the past on things where there was complete bipartisan agreement. This is, at this point, disagreement on how to proceed [on the border],” Barrasso noted to K2. He suggested that President Trump use the $1.357 billion appropriated by Congress and then re-purpose other money to fund border security.

It may be alluring to bend the rules for the issue of the day, but it may lead to much larger problems down the road.

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