Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
The shutdown to end all shutdowns may have just happened. The toll exacted by the 235 day shutdown on Federal employees, businesses, air safety and political fallout, was so punishing that it is giving momentum to a longstanding call to prohibit government shutdowns entirely. “Shutting down the government should be as off limits in budget negotiations as chemical warfare is in real warfare,” Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said on Friday. Members of both parties want to enact legislation that would keep the government open at existing spending levels when an impasse is reached. “This never should have happened,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, speaking for many. Republican Susan Collins echoed that sentiment, as did Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner.
Past shutdowns didn’t work for Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and House conservatives in 2013 or for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and fellow Democrats in 2018. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is proposing legislation that would mean that impasses between Congress and the President would simply lock current spending and laws in place until the issue is resolved.
If Trump doesn’t get his Wall money through negotiations in the next couple weeks, he has threatened to declare a state of emergency and make the military build the wall. Democrats would promptly file suit against Trump if he did that, the new House Armed Services chairman warned Friday. What kind of national emergency can be declared in three weeks, anyway?
Trump’s aides have reportedly drafted a declaration that would enable the president to divert billions to the wall. Washington Democrat Adam Smith said “Taking billions out of the Pentagon’s military construction and flood control budget would be a big problem, and there’s bipartisan opposition to it.” Congress is reconsidering the 1976 National Emergencies Act, which gives the president such sweeping authority to spend money without lawmakers’ consent. The courts will determine if there is an emergency even under the terms of the 1976 law.
Military personnel on border deployment also costs a lot of money and diverts troops from training for their primary missions. The panel is also concerned that troops could be drawn into direct law enforcement activities that are barred by law.
“We want to make sure those lines don’t get blurred and the military is not used for domestic law enforcement,” Smith said.
So this week, there are at least three related items of concern you may want to talk about with your Congressperson and Senators: 1) Your thoughts on moves to prevent another government shutdown no matter what Trump does 2) Your thoughts on the legality of Trump declaring an emergency at the southern border and taking money away from flood control programs with the Army Corps of Engineers and 3) Your thoughts on deploying thousands of active duty military on the southern border, possibly being used for domestic law enforcement.