Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement on Friday after President Trump announced a national emergency on the Southern border:
“The president has made a strong case for increased border security, but declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S.
Constitution. It is unnecessary because significant additional money already has been approved by Congress that he could spend on border security without declaring a national emergency. In fact, the president announced today that he would spend $3 billion of this additional funding to fund construction of the border wall. This $3 billion is in addition to the $22 billion Congress appropriated on Thursday for detention beds, technology, border patrol agents, ports of entry, replacing existing wall and 55 miles of new wall.
“It is unwise because if this president can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next president can declare a national emergency to tear it down; or declare a climate change emergency to close coal plants and build wind turbines; or a health care emergency and force into Medicare the 180 million Americans with health insurance on the job.
“It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution because, after the American Revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive with the power to tax the people and spend their money any way he chooses. The Constitution gives that authority exclusively to a Congress elected by the people.”
Senator Alexander voted on Thursday for legislation that Congress passed and the president will sign that made a “significant down payment on border security.” That new law included $22 billion for border security, which includes 55 new miles of physical barrier or wall on the southern border, an increase of 5,000 detention beds, funding for technology and more border agents and funding to secure the ports of entry, through which so much of the illegal drug traffic travels.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “I am pleased that Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, funding for USDA for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019. We will be moving at full speed on all of our responsibilities, making good on our motto by doing right and feeding everyone. Since Congress did not act to protect our southern border, the President has also declared a national emergency, which helps him fulfill a clear promise to protect our national security interests. He is exercising his Constitutional authority, as presidents from both parties have done many times in the past.
“Even with the passage of the appropriations bill, Congress still has unfinished business in areas of great concern for USDA and the customers we serve. Farmers and ranchers were battered last year by a series of monumental storms, robbing them of their livelihoods and inflicting damage well beyond the financial risks they normally assume in their operations. These are the men and women who dedicate their lives to feeding, fueling, and clothing this nation, and we cannot turn our backs on them when they need assistance. Just as importantly, another devastating wildfire season left our Forest Service badly in need of replenished funds to fight fires, remove excess fuels, and conduct necessary forest management. Without these resources, we risk falling behind in forest maintenance and inviting even more severe seasons in the future. I will continue to work with the President and the Congress to address these critical issues.”