LISTEN LIVE: Loading...



McGovern: Trump Needs To Understand He's 'Not All-Powerful'

Rep. Jim McGovern, Congressman for the Second District of Massachusetts. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Rep. Jim McGovern, Congressman for the Second District of Massachusetts. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
This article is more than 4 years old.

President Trump is expected to sign a budget compromise on border security Friday, averting a government shutdown. But he's also expected to take action on something he's been hinting at for weeks: to declare a national emergency in order to build a border wall with Mexico. It's a move opposed by some Republicans and many Democrats, including Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern, who joined Morning Edition Friday to talk with Bob Oakes about the issue.

The following interview highlights have been edited for length and clarity.

Bob Oakes: Some Democrats are saying what the president is doing, or will do, with a national emergency declaration is an end run around the Constitution. What's your take?

Rep. Jim McGovern: I think that that's absolutely correct... Congress has the power of the purse. We decide how taxpayer money is spent. And look — Congress spoke loud and clear yesterday [Thursday] when we passed this compromise budget deal which denies the president the $5.7 billion for his crazy border wall and we made it clear that we're not willing to fund it. And so congressional intention is clear. I think that Eugene Robinson from The Washington Post is right — this is constitutional vandalism and we need to challenge him in the Congress. We should pass a resolution of disapproval and we also need to challenge him in the courts, as the chair of the Rules Committee.

What action could you take in the committee?

I think what we'd like to do is maybe to usher in a resolution of disapproval to the House floor for a vote, which would then, if we passed it, be taken up by the Senate. They would have to take it up under their procedures and get everybody on record. The president would obviously have to sign it or veto it if he vetoes it.

I hope the votes are there to override it. Republicans over the last couple of weeks have been saying over and over and over again that they think this is a bad idea. They fear that if a Democrat becomes president that a Democrat will declare a national emergency over gun violence or the climate crisis or over the poverty crisis in this country. So they have it on record, including Mitch McConnell, who has expressed his concern about this idea. But then yesterday I see Mitch McConnell announce that the president is going to do this. It looks like a hostage video — maybe McConnell is going along with this because he knows the courts will reject it. But this is a bad idea and the president needs to understand that he is not all-powerful, that we have a system of checks and balances here. We have a Constitution. He has to follow it. And what he announced today I think is beyond his constitutional powers.

Do you think Democrats will be able to block a national security declaration?

I think either we will block it or the courts will block it. I don't think Donald Trump is going to be able to build his ridiculous border wall...

I don't think this stands up in courts. I think he did this so that Ann Coulter won't yell at him today. Understand he's going to make this announcement and go to Mar-a-Lago and golf and relax.

This segment aired on February 15, 2019.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



Listen Live