OPINION: Members of Senate on the fence about Trump's wall
A "No Border Wall" sign takes place at the front of the pro-DACA protest on Sept. 5.
The border wall has been one of the most controversial plans laid out by President Donald Trump from the very beginning of his campaign. Both Democrats and Republicans have questioned the effectiveness of a wall if it were to be placed at the border. However, to keep the fan base alive, Trump has been determined to carry out one of his most quotable plans, albeit in a questionable way.
Trump has diverted $3.6 billion away from the military budget to go towards a border wall, a plan that naturally has received bipartisan criticism. As a result of this diversion of money, necessary funds to carry out important military projects have been lost. Plans such as schools for military children, repairs of military bases in Puerto Rico and cuts to the engineering center at West Point.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney from Utah have been extremely critical of the money diversion as $54 million for jobs in Utah have been put to a halt. Senator Romney criticized President Trump, stating that the cuts have done nothing of value and have only negatively impacted the military readiness of the U.S. Senator Lee had taken a different approach to critique the new plans, rather noting that this is an issue of executive power.
“Congress has been ceding far too much power to the executive branch for decades and it is far past time for Congress to restore the proper balance of power between the three branches,” mentioned Senator Lee after the decision had been made by Trump to divert the funds. He was not the only person within the legislative branch to denote this issue.
Sen. Dianne Fienstein, a democrat from California, said of the diversion that, “The decision by the administration to divert funds from military construction projects in order to build the president’s ill-conceived wall is irresponsible. Congress appropriated these funds for specific military construction projects, and that’s how the funds should be used.”
The Constitution does not give the executive branch the power to allocate funds where they see fit; the Spending Clause gives this to the Legislative Branch: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States ...”
We have separation of powers in the U.S.; this is to make sure none of the three branches become too powerful. When we ignore the clear responsibilities laid out in the Constitution for each branch, we begin to see the scales tip in favor of one of the branches. When we see this happen, the government does not run by design as one for the people, but rather for the branch that seems to have usurped some of the power.
The Legislative Branch has become helpless in this fight, however, simply because a previous ruling by the Supreme Court has allowed Trump to allocate funds from a separate category of military funding to the Department of Homeland Security. The Judicial and Executive Branches have seemed to snuff out the Legislative Branch.
Though, all hope is not lost. The American Civil Liberties Union is planning to block the diverted funds by way of a court order as part of its ongoing lawsuit against the emergency declaration.
We find ourselves in an interesting time, one in which our government is no longer serving the best interest of its people, but rather the whims of its egomaniacal commander in chief. Of course, this is nothing new; however, it is alarming how Americans are willing to watch what happens rather than exercising their rights and getting involved. Perhaps it is time to treat these issues as deliberate acts of disrespect toward our Constitution rather than treating them as the weekly antics of our kooky president. Something can be done, it just needs to be given proper attention.
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