Last month, House speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that President Trump had to re-open the government before Democrats would engage in any negotiations over border security. Subsequently, President Trump announced a three-week temporary end to the partial government shutdown that did not include funding for a border wall. In doing so, he put country over politics and put the onus on the Democrats to negotiate in good faith. Despite the president's good-faith effort to reach across the political aisle, congressional Democrats failed miserably, acted in bad faith, and seriously undermined their credibility.
When President Trump re-opened the government, Democrats had the opportunity to work in a bi-partisan manner so as to adequately fund (or at least negotiate) the president's border wall and border security. Rather than doing so, "Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Monday to prevent President Trump from using military and disaster relief funds to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall should he declare a national emergency," according to The Hill.
In other words, not only did congressional Democrats fail to negotiate funding for the border (and border security), as Pelosi indicated, but they also blatantly (albeit poorly) attempted to circumvent the president's power under the National Emergency Act. For example, Section 2808 "permits the Secretary of Defense to undertake military construction projects, and to authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects[.] ... [S]uch projects may be taken only within the total amount of funds that have been appropriated for military construction." Moreover, in an L.A. Times article, Elizabeth Goitein, a scholar at the Brennan Center at NYU, stated:
[T]he federal law that applies to the Defense Department includes a special provision on "construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency." It says that in the event of war or the "declaration by the president of a national emergency ... that requires use of the armed forces, the secretary of Defense, without regard to any other provision of law, may undertake military construction projects ... not otherwise authorized by law."
Therefore, assuming that this legislation fails, which is highly likely, Senate Democrats will probably resort to the courts to address this issue. (There is also the question of whether the president's decision to declare a national emergency is a "political question," in which case the courts will not interfere.) Regardless of whether they decide to involve the courts, it is outrageous and shameful that congressional Democrats' offer to negotiate was seemingly nothing more than a ruse to stymie the president by refusing to fund the wall and attempting to deprive him of his rights under the National Emergency Act.
Additionally, this outrageous piece of legislation and the bad-faith negotiation tactics utilized by some congressional Democrats have further eroded their credibility. More importantly, they have bolstered people's doubts about whether Democrats truly want to work with the president (and Republicans) or whether their real goal is to oppose, attack, and defeat the president at all costs.
Chuck Schumer's recent remarks about the president and his State of the Union address perfectly exemplify this point. According to The Hill, Schumer stated, "Knowing this president, he will then make some bold new promises and not even make an attempt to fulfill them." "The man has so little integrity that a promise that he makes at the State of the Union means nothing the next morning." Schumer made these critical and offensive remarks before he had even seen the president's speech. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to comment after reviewing the speech?
President Trump showed true leadership when he temporarily re-opened the government. In doing so, he left congressional Democrats with two choices. They can either agree to fund the wall or they can allow partisan politics, greed, and bad faith to dictate their behavior. Sadly, it appears that congressional Democrats have chosen the latter path. Time will tell what impact this will have on the country.
Mr. Hakim is a writer, commentator, and practicing attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.