This March, President Donald Trump issued his first veto after Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly rebuked his national emergency declaration to build a wall at the southern border.
In our deeply polarized era, this rare moment of bipartisanship illustrated the deep respect both parties have for our Constitution.
The Constitution’s protection from executive overreach is a belief fundamental to America’s identity: We are a country of, by, and for the people.
As a member of the biggest freshman class of veterans in over a decade, the moment reminded me of what I saw every day in the military: the ability to put aside differences and work together to get the job done. Whether it is the Army or Congress, we must remember we are here to serve our country.
But in ignoring the will of Congress and that of the American people, the president threatens a constitutional crisis, deepens a humanitarian problem and ignores the wisdom of our national security leaders. And with his vote, Sen. Cory Gardner has decided it is more politically important for him to stand by President Trump, no matter what, than stand up for Coloradans.
One of the most pressing concerns is the president’s lack of a national security justification for his emergency declaration. Recently, Gen. Michael Hayden (ret.) and Matthew G. Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, stated that “an informed and honest assessment of the facts demonstrates that there is no national security crisis.”
A problem compounded when you consider that in January, during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, I asked why active duty troops were deployed to the border. Military leadership was not able to provide clear answers about who was driving the mission.
Second, the president’s border wall is not only expensive, it also fails to properly secure our border. I speak from first-hand experience. As an Army Ranger, it was my job to secure the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And I can assure you, I never once took out a sack of bricks (or perhaps in Trump’s case, “steel slats”) to build a wall. We used 21st-century tools for a 21st-century problem, including surveillance technology, sensors and aircraft.
As a soldier and now member of Congress, I find the president’s actions dangerous. It is risky to politicize our military and dishonors the service and sacrifice of our troops. The president’s national emergency is not only unconstitutional, but costly and jeopardizes critical military funding and readiness.
Already, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has warned of decreased combat readiness caused by the troop deployment at the southern border and the loss of funding.
According to the Department of Defense, nearly $145 million in funding for Colorado’s military projects hangs in the balance, including $77 million in funding for Colorado’s Fort Carson. Also at risk is funding for special operations training programs and schools for military children, to name a few.
President Trump is making an end-run around Congress and the American people in declaring a national emergency to advance his political agenda. That’s why I recently voted to override the president’s veto.
We must put a check on power when it fails to represent the people. For over 200 years, our Constitution has protected Americans from overreach by either branch of government. It’s a concept I defended as a soldier, and one which I will protect as a representative.
Jason Crow, a Democrat, is a U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.