Opinion

Chuck Schumer Urges Biden to Grab Power and Shred the Constitution

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Posted: Jan 26, 2021 1:15 PM
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Chuck Schumer Urges Biden to Grab Power and Shred the Constitution

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

If there were devices designed to measure the amount of political hypocrisy in the air, they’d be exploding all over the country. There’s a new party in control of D.C., which means everything that was bad is now good and vice versa. If you were quoting Thomas Jefferson on January 19th, you’re more a Hamiltonian today.

Time to lift those draconian coronavirus shutdowns in California, Michigan, and other blue states; it turns out they’re hurting the economy! Travel bans aren’t xenophobic; they protect us! The procedural filibuster is a Jim Crow law!

For four years, Democrats and their media portrayed President Trump as Snidely-esque villain, twirling his mustache as he tied America to the train tracks. Now, they’ll spend the next four years asking Jen Psaki to elaborate on Biden’s favorite ice cream flavor while Biden does all the same things that used to be a “danger to our democracy.”

What was fascist authoritarianism when Trump was president is now crucial to our protection. Just ask the newly-minted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Last night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Schumer suggested that Biden should use the National Emergency Act to allow him to go around Congress in order to deal with the issue of climate change. Schumer told Maddow, “He [Biden] can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the President that wouldn’t have to go through—that he could do without legislation.”

If the idea of using the National Emergency Act to go around Congress sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the tactic President Trump used to go around Congress to fund the border wall.

Schumer acknowledged in the interview with Maddow that he was definitely suggesting the exact same tactic. Schumer explained, “Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall which wasn’t an emergency, but if there was ever an emergency, climate is one.”

Schumer spun history so hard with that comment I thought Pat Sajak was about to show up and ask him for a letter. In reality, when Trump used this tactic, Schumer wasn’t— as he now claims—against it because of the substance of Trump’s policy. In fact, Schumer excoriated the move with apocalyptic rhetoric.

Less than two years ago, Schumer railed against Trump’s national emergency gambit as being blatantly unconstitutional. He called it “an outrageous power grab by a president who refuses to accept the constitutional separation of powers.”

In a joint statement with Nancy Pelosi, Schumer said, “The President's actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution.” He also claimed that President Trump was lawless and that this was an attempt to “shred the Constitution.”

It was an existential threat to everything we hold dear! At least, it was when Trump was president.

Now that there’s a new president—a Democrat president—Schumer suddenly has a newfound fondness for this tactic. A new guy moves into the White House and in the blink of an eye what was an unconstitutional shredding of the Constitution became a bullet point on Schumer’s leadership tip-sheet.

It will be awkward if Biden follows Schumer’s advice given that Biden’s HHS nominee, Xavier Becerra, literally sued the Trump administration claiming the tactic violated the appropriations clause of the Constitution.

The truth is, this was not unconstitutional when Trump did it, and it’s not unconstitutional now. Congress passed a ridiculous law that allows the president alone to define what is or is not a national emergency. It’s actually the 94th Congress that should be excoriated for handing over their power to the president nearly half a century ago.

Schumer’s game now is to pretend he was against Trump’s national emergency because he disagreed with the policy, but the truth is Schumer decried the action—the action he’s now urging the new president to take— as a lawless violation of fundamental constitutional principles. A danger to our Democracy. A slap in the face to the founding fathers.

The fact that Schumer’s interpretation of the Constitution is dependent upon who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue provides a lot of insight into the four-year temper tantrum that we were all witness to. Those things that were existential threats to our entire way of life are simply good government in the Biden era. Nothing to do now but sit back and discover what else is only dangerous when Republicans do it.