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Sasse Warns Trump That National Emergency Could Set Dangerous Precedent

Sen. Ben Sasse (right) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) on Friday warned President Trump that his national emergency declaration may set a dangerous precedent that will be exploited by a future Democratic administration.

In a statement provided to National Review, Sasse endorsed President Trump’s claim that a lack of attention to security has created a “crisis” at the southern border, but warned that resolving the issue through a national-emergency declaration would prove counterproductive for conservatives in the future.

“We absolutely have a crisis at the border, but as a Constitutional conservative I don’t want a future Democratic President unilaterally rewriting gun laws or climate policy,” Sasse said in the statement. “If we get used to presidents just declaring an emergency any time they can’t get what they want from Congress, it will be almost impossible to go back to a Constitutional system of checks and balances. Over the past decades, the legislative branch has given away too much power and the executive branch has taken too much power.”

On Thursday, Sasse joined ten fellow conservative senators in voting against the Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which provided just $1.375 billion for the construction of new barriers on the southern border, prompting Trump to declare a national emergency on Friday. In doing so, he moved to secure $3.6 billion in discretionary military funds to construct additional barriers but, as Trump acknowledged during his address, it is sure to be challenged in court.

Asked after his address about conservative critics who have argued the national-emergency declaration cedes too much power to the executive and paves the way for constitutional abuses by future Democratic administrations, Trump argued that the scale of the crisis at the border should override any concern about future implications.

“We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming in to our country,” he said.

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