By BECKY KISER
Sen. Jerry Moran was in Hays on Friday morning to get his hair cut and then swung by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber Chat at Fort Hays State University.
The weekly event featured executive staff members of the FHSU Student Government Association, who explained the organization’s purpose and how it works.
Community Relations Director Jacki Dougherty, Wichita junior, talked about the outreach programs she coordinates, including partnerships.
Moran, one of the two Republican U.S. senators for Kansas and a former Hays resident, noted he had served in SGA when a student at FHSU.
“There’s nothing more important than what happens here at Fort Hays State University for the benefit and future of western Kansas. What takes place on this campus matters greatly,” Moran told the crowd. “It’s great to see the chamber of commerce, the business community of Hays, and the students come together.”
After the Chamber Chat, Moran talked with many of the attendees and then sat down for a short interview with local media representatives.
Moran was asked about his vote Thursday for the Emergency Declaration Resolution of Disapproval to block President Donald Trump from using emergency powers to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Moran is one of just 12 Republicans who joined with Democrats in the 59-41 vote. The other Kansas senator, Pat Roberts, voted against the resolution.
The Democrat-controlled House approved the resolution last month, 245-182.
“I and many of my colleagues have been interested in more border security. … I’ve introduced legislation related to strengthening our borders, including money necessary for a wall to be built,” Moran said. “The question is, how do we get there since Congress rejected that?”
After the Senate vote, President Trump tweeted “VETO!”
Moran believes Trump has been “unfairly treated by Democratic leadership” that previously voted for funding for a wall and supported it.
“Perhaps because it’s now President Trump, they’re unwilling to do so,” he said.
The contention that building a wall across the southern border is immoral is “just wrong” in Moran’s view. “It is important to have border security and to know who’s coming across our borders.”
It’s also important, Moran says, that Congress abide by the U.S. Constitution.
Moran believes strongly the method of a president declaring an emergency and spending the money is a violation of the Constitution, which Moran has sworn to uphold.
“This can become a precedent for other presidents and emergency powers have certainly been used by previous presidents,” he said. “When (Democratic) President Obama was using executive orders to negotiate an agreement with Iran on its nuclear abilities, that should have been a treaty subject to Senate confirmation. I and many of my colleagues pushed back strenuously on his, in my view, excess use of executive power. The Democrats were in the majority and the votes weren’t there for success in the Senate.
“Other presidents have worked around Congress to do things that requires Congress to be engaged in. It was wrong then and it will be wrong in the future. Having taken that position with President Obama, I can’t pick and choose at which points in time I think the Constitution is important. I think it’s important always.”
The president is acting under an emergency powers act, a law that is unconstitutional, according to Moran, and needs to be repealed or amended.
“That’s where the focus was in advance of this vote and that’s where the focus is today after this vote, is to have a different set of criteria that guides a president’s ability to declare an emergency in what circumstances.”
Moran said he thinks there is sufficient Republican Congressional support to “rein in” the law that allows presidential emergency powers regardless of the circumstances. “I don’t know about Democratic support, but there ought to be to do so.”
On Wednesday, Moran — a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee — co-sponsored a bill that was introduced as the Assuring that Robust, Thorough, and Informed Congressional Leadership is Exercised Over National Emergencies (ARTICLE ONE) Act, legislation that would restore Congressional authority over emergency declarations.
Moran acknowledged the difficulty in amending the law.
“Probably no president will ever agree to sign a law that restricts their authorities,” he said with a wry smile. “It’s a really old law and being used in ways suggesting that it must be amended. It will take a president or a super majority of House and Senate members to alter the law.”
According to Moran, the president on Thursday “indicated that he would consider” signing an amended law “in the future.”
Mid-afternoon Friday, President Trump signed the first veto of his administration, overriding Congress to protect his emergency declaration for redirecting more than $6 billion in federal funds for the border wall.
Friday morning Moran predicted there would not be a vote in the Senate on the override and that a vote would fail in the House.
“But I intend to be consistent with my past votes,” he added.
Trump’s national emergency declaration still faces legal challenges. Sixteen states filed a lawsuit last month challenging the declaration as unconstitutional.
Below is the statement Moran issued yesterday regarding his vote on the Emergency Declaration.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Appropriations Committee – Thursday announced he will support H. J. Res. 46, the Emergency Declaration Resolution of Disapproval.
“President Trump is correct, there is a need for better border security,” wrote Sen. Moran. “…I have introduced legislation and voted many times for greater funding for border security, including President Trump’s border wall.”
“Upon my election to public office, I take one oath – to uphold the Constitution of the United States,” continued Sen. Moran. “I believe the use of emergency powers in this circumstance violates the Constitution. Allowing the use of such power establishes a precedent for future presidents to further act against laws and appropriations approved by Congress. This continues our country down the path of all powerful executive – something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of.”
Sen. Moran’s full written thoughts can be found here and below.
1. President Trump is correct, there is a need for better border security.
2. Our borders are a matter of national sovereignty and control over who enters our country is vital in our fight against terrorism and battle against drugs and human trafficking.
3. Many Americans and most Kansans agree with the President that this is an important issue and must be dealt with.
4. The President has not been fairly treated by Democrats in Congress – a wall is not immoral and democrats have previously supported funding border barriers.
5. I have introduced legislation and voted many times for greater funding for border security, including President Trump’s border wall.
6. The President can advance the building of a wall with the funding just approved by Congress and can increase the funds available by reprogramming other accounts.
7. Therefore, the declaration of an emergency is not necessary.
8. The declaration of an emergency under these circumstances is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The laws passed by Congress years ago allowing the president emergency powers is flawed and needs to be repealed or amended.
9. In high school government class we all learned about our Founding Fathers and the three separate, but equal branches of government. This concept is one of the most significant in protecting America as a republic and maintaining citizen freedoms & liberties. Both government structure and the Bill of Rights matter.
10. Upon my election to public office, I take one oath – to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I believe the use of emergency powers in this circumstance violates the Constitution.
11. Allowing the use of such power establishes a precedent for future presidents to further act against laws and appropriations approved by Congress. This continues our country down the path of all powerful executive – something those who wrote the Constitution were fearful of.
12. Kansans have criticized President Obama for abuse of executive orders, ignoring the laws and avoiding the requirements of negotiating a treaty when dealing with foreign powers. I agree and fought it.
13. I aggressively opposed the overreach of past presidents and believe that I can not pick and choose to now look the other way.
14. If the Constitution means one thing in the Obama administration and another in the Trump administration, the enduring value of the Constitution disappears and another generation of Americans will be less free.
15. The number one responsibility we have as American citizens is to pass to the next generation of Americans our constitutionally guaranteed liberties. There are days where it seems clear we are failing greatly.
16. How we do things – even good things – matters. We were raised that the ends don’t justify the means.
17. To find a loop hole on this issue and to vote another way might be an easier course. But my gut, my intellect, my understanding of history, tells me use of emergency powers is wrong. It can’t be an option to support something I believe wrong.
18. This country is filled with people who care, who are patriots, who served in our military. I try never to let anyone down. On my watch I always want to do right as I see it.