Wicker vote may be unpopular but was right

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sen. Roger Wicker made the right call, but it will likely cost him some support in Trump-loving Mississippi.

Wicker was one of 12 Republican senators who did not vote with Trump on his declaration of an emergency on the southwest border. They joined Democrats and voted to block the declaration.

His logic was sound and his reasoning clear: “I strongly support (Trump’s) plan to build walls on our southern border, but an emergency declaration (is) the wrong approach. The president already has almost $6 billion available that can be used to build border walls. I am concerned about the precedent an emergency declaration sets, which might empower a future liberal president to declare emergencies to enact gun control, address ‘climate emergencies’ or even tear down the wall we are building today.

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“I regret that we were not able to find a solution that would have averted a challenge to the balance of power as defined by the Constitution. The system of checks and balances established by the founders has preserved our democracy. It is essential that we protect this balance even when it is frustrating or inconvenient.”

Credit Wicker for doing what he thought was right and best for the country. It will likely come with a price. President Trump does not forget those who cross him.

But Wicker has some breathing room before the next election — he’s not on the ballot again until 2024. Voters likely won’t remember this single vote, especially since he votes reliably Republican the vast majority of the time.

Brookhaven’s Cindy Hyde-Smith did not have the kind of breathing room afforded to Wicker. She is up for re-election next year and likely viewed any break with Trump as political suicide. Or maybe she simply agrees that the situation on the border is an emergency.

“An emergency declaration may not be an ideal course of action, but an objective look at surging unlawful border crossings and illegal drug trafficking indicates we are facing a crisis that will get worse before it gets better,” she said in a statement.  “This is a serious issue.  The citizens of this country would be better served if Congress worked together to address this humanitarian and border security crisis, rather than using the issue to score political points.”

She is correct that the declaration is not an ideal course of action. Wicker understands the need for border security, but he also understands the limits of executive authority.

Republicans who backed Trump in this fight might come to regret allowing a president to turn a campaign promise into a national emergency.