To The Daily Sun,

This story we learned in school. A member of Congress introduces legislation. If passed by both houses, the President has a chance to say no with a veto. In order for the original proposer to prevail after a veto, two-thirds agreement with the members in both chambers must be found. If it is, the proposal becomes law.

Here’s a different story. The President declares a national emergency, effectively creating new, immediate legislation — proposed, committeed, debated and passed, one fell swoop. Congress does have a chance to say no. First comes a meaningless round of simple-majority Congressional rejection in both houses and a guaranteed Presidential veto of said rejection. After that, to prevail, the original proposer (the President) has to find only one-third agreement with the members of only one chamber for the new legislation to remain law.

Notice the discrepancy here: two-thirds of both vs. one-third of one? Now that Trump has expanded the scope of what can be deemed a national emergency, the fear is that some later Democratic president will go hog wild and use this emergency power to start curtailing rights.

Imagine we are back in 1998, the year Newt Gingrich succeeded in impeaching Clinton, a strongly Republican time. The Republican majority in the Senate was 55-45 and 228-206 in the House. What if Clinton had tried to double down on his 1994 (Dems in control) Federal Assault Weapons Ban? What if, in 1998, he had declared a national emergency and imposed further restriction on Second Amendment rights? After both Republican chambers quickly repudiated him with a meaningless simple-majority “veto” rejecting the emergency, Clinton would have vetoed their “veto.” Then, since it takes two-thirds of both chambers to sustain the rejection, Clinton would have only had to corral 34 of his 45 Democratic fellows in the Senate or 146 of his 206 compatriots in the House to block the “veto.” One-third agreement in one house is all that he would have needed to let his scheme stand, while a powerless Republican majority could have only fumed.

Regardless of your opinion of Trump’s recent wall-building emergency declaration, what do you think of a one-third minority in one Congressional chamber “passing” a new law? Does this sound like democracy to you?

Mark Reschke


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