President Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency to provide more money for border barriers was quickly criticized by lawmakers in both parties on Thursday.
But any Congressional action opposing the national emergency is unlikely to come in the immediate future.
For one thing, Congress has a scheduled recess next week. The protracted dispute on funding the government has already cut into the time lawmakers have been able to spend in their districts this Congress. House Democratic leaders are not likely to scale that time back further. Next week will be an important opportunity for the newly-elected House Democrats to build the relationships essential to winning re-election.
Democrats also may have another reason to wait.
If President Trump does declare a national emergency—rather than pursue another type of executive action—House Democrats will have the opportunity to pursue a resolution that would terminate the declaration. Under the law governing national emergencies, the Senate would have to vote on the resolution and it could pass with a simple majority.
Several Republican senators have made no secret of their antipathy about a national emergency declaration, and some may vote in favor of a resolution terminating the declaration.
Democrats may attempt to increase the number of defections from Senate Republican by trying to build public opposition to the idea of the national emergency. Several groups have vowed to challenge the declaration in court, and the emergency declaration could become increasingly unpopular over time.
During the shutdown, Democrats bet that the public would primarily blame the president for the shutdown and waited until he reopened the government. If public discontent were to similarly simmer about a national emergency declaration, Republicans may feel more pressure to vote in favor of a resolution disapproving of the emergency declaration.
At the same time, the national emergency declaration—depending on its scope—could also fade from public view given enough time, leaving Republicans less compelled to rebel against the president.
Write to Andrew Duehren at firstname.lastname@example.org.