Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said Friday morning in Hays he can’t pick and choose when it’s important to uphold the Constitution.
“It’s important always,” Moran, R-Kan., said, explaining his vote to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern U.S. border.
Moran and 11 other GOP senators voted Thursday with Democrats to approve 59-41 a Democratic-written resolution terminating the president’s move to fund his proposed border wall.
Friday afternoon, Trump vetoed the resolution. Democrats say they will schedule an override vote, but Moran doubts he’ll get the opportunity.
“It will fail in the House,” he said, “but I intend to be consistent with my past votes.”
After Thursday’s vote on the resolution, Moran issued an 18-point statement explaining his thoughts on the issue. His social media accounts posted pictures of his handwritten notes.
Friday morning he reiterated some of those points to local media after speaking briefly and meeting with constituents at the end of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Chat at Fort Hays State University.
The resolution was not one that he and his fellow Republicans took lightly, he said.
“I spent the last couple of weeks with my colleagues, working with the White House trying to figure out if there’s a way that this could be handled differently than the vote that occurred (Thursday),” he said.
The senator emphasized that Thursday’s resolution was not a vote against Trump’s wall or increased border security.
“I and many of my colleagues — perhaps most, if not all — 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,” he said.
“The question is, how do we get there since Congress rejected them?” he said.
“It is important for us to have border security. And it’s important for us to know who’s coming across our borders.
“It’s also important that we abide by the Constitution, and in my view — and I feel pretty strongly about this — the method of declaring an emergency and spending the money is a violation of the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
“I’ve sworn to abide by the Constitution, so if I reached the conclusion that something is unconstitutional, I just don’t have many options,” he said.
Moran said he has opposed the use of emergency powers and executive orders by other presidents, such as when President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement with Iran on nuclear capabilities.
“That should have been a treaty subject to Senate confirmation,” he said.
This is the first time, however, Congress has taken such action against a president’s emergency declaration. Moran said that, under Obama at least, Congress did not have the votes to do so.
“I can tell you that I and many of my colleagues pushed back strenuously on President Obama’s — in my view — excessive use of executive power,” he said.
At the time of the Iran agreement, Democrats were in the majority.
“The votes weren’t there to have success on the Senate floor. It’s an important issue for me, having taken that position with President Obama,” he said. “I can’t pick and choose at what points in time I think the Constitution is important. It’s important always.”
Approving the resolution protects the separation of powers as laid out in the Constitution and protects the rights of the people, Moran said.
“It’s wrong then and it will be wrong in the future,” he said.
“Particularly for those of us who come from the middle of the country … we’re a minority, and the Constitution serves as keeping the majority from forcing their will on the minority. I worry that the next president will do things very damaging to our way of life, from pro-life issues to environmental issues,” he said.
Moran did not criticize Trump for using the Emergency Powers Act, which was enacted in 1976.
“The law is what’s unconstitutional, and that law needs to be repealed or amended, and 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, a different law that guides a president’s ability for he or she to declare an emergency,” Moran said.