According to news reports, “The Pentagon will delay or suspend 127 military construction projects so that $3.6 billion can be diverted to shore up President Trump’s border wall.” In other words, Mexico isn’t paying for the wall. But, you already knew that. The President is grabbing the Pentagon by the budget through an emergency declaration. Where is Congress who has the responsibility of appropriating money? Pointing fingers and tweeting praise.
A quick refresher. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to put more U.S. taxpayer money behind his border wall after a bipartisan Congress agreed to a lesser amount than he wanted. The President, under pressure from right-wing media, decided to reject the bipartisan deal and force a partial government shutdown. After public backlash, the President backed down. Once the government reopened, the administration declared a national emergency. That declaration is subverting Congress and diminishing its role in appropriating our money. Typically, members of the Legislative branch would be furious and attempt to uphold their authority against Executive branch overreach. North Dakota’s Republican delegation of John Hoeven, Kevin Cramer, and Kelly Armstrong applauded the move. Three profiles in courage.
If Democrats had given immigration law enforcement the funds they need, none of these military projects would be affected.
— Sen. Kevin Cramer (@SenKevinCramer) September 4, 2019
Senator Kevin Cramer tweeted the above following the news the Pentagon was being forced to rip money away from military projects to fund the wall with U.S. tax dollars instead of Mexican pesos. Cramer conveniently ignores his involvement in failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Let’s look at the record.
In 2013, the Democratically-led Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform package. Both North Dakota’s Senators, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, and Republican John Hoeven voted for that reform. The package had many provisions President Trump is asking for including merit-based immigration and more border law enforcement. That bipartisan package was stalled in the Republican-controlled House by Speaker Boehner who was enabled by Congressman Kevin Cramer. After all, there was an election months away and immigration is easy to campaign on. Cramer and his Republican colleagues kicked the can down the road. They continue to campaign on the issue to this day.
Fast-forward to 2017. Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and had a Republican President in the White House. For the next two years, Cramer and his party failed to pass immigration reform with complete control of the federal government. No wonder the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) – the same group that endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy – endorsed Senator Heidi Heitkamp over Cramer in 2018. Heitkamp had a track record of working on border policy. Cramer had cheap political talk to offer.
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Two years. Complete control. No emergency. Mexico isn’t paying for the wall. Here is the list of projects now impacted by Trump’s moves as Cramer cheers and deflects blame for the lack of immigration reform and funding. This situation didn’t develop overnight.
Congress has failed to do their job in two ways. First, by failing to pass the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package in 2014 because of Republican election-year politics. Second, by letting a President strip away their authority as they tweet out cheers from the sidelines. While Cramer points his finger at Democrats, he hopes you won’t see his fingerprints all over that failure to get it done much earlier.