Editorial: Sen. Burr - Show promised independence, block Trump’s ‘emergency’

March 5, 2019

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, March 5, 2019; Editorial #8397 The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It was no idle or off the cuff comment when Sen. Richard Burr announced during his 2016 campaign – at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland no less – that if he won election to a third term, it would be his last.

More than to the state’s party faithful at the convention, his words were intended for voters back in North Carolina.

The message was clear – his future votes and actions in office wouldn’t be encumbered by petty concerns over how they’d impact re-election standing -- either with the party faithful for a GOP primary or in the general election.

It’s time for Burr to put his votes now where his rhetoric was on the 2016 campaign trail. It is time for Burr to do what is best for North Carolina, the U.S. Senate and the nation.

He needs to support the resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border to build his trophy “wall.” He needs to stand up to Trump’s vanity and threat that Republicans who oppose him “put themselves at great jeopardy.”

Burr, who has NOTHING to risk with his vote, needs to follow the example of the state’s junior Sen. Thom Tillis, who will vote to oppose Trump’s action – even in face of his re-election campaign coming up in 2020.

There are two VERY important reasons why this is the right thing for Burr to do:

If upheld by Congress and the courts, this is the kind of act that will come back to haunt Congress’ of the future – no matter which political party dominates.

Even if Burr isn’t around to regret it, his successors in the Senate will curse those who failed to stand with the legislative branch of government. Though Tillis puts a partisan spin on it – his admonition applies no matter where a president might stand politically or ideologically.

“Most concerning is that it would create a new precedent that a left-wing president would undoubtedly utilize to implement their radical agenda while bypassing the authority of Congress,” Tillis said when he announced his opposition to the emergency declaration.

“Congress has allowed executive overreach to continue unabated from one administration to the next because both sides are fine with it as long as they agree with the policy goal,” he said. “… I don’t believe in situational principles.”

Thirty-five former GOP members of Congress have signed a letter asking fellow Republicans to oppose the emergency declaration. Signers include Ohio Gov. Kasich, former Senate Foreign Relations Chair Richard Lugar of Indiana and former Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Burr needs to join fellow Senate Republicans Tillis, Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to not just oppose Trump’s action but to send a clear signal to the nation that he stands with the Constitution and against presidential overreach.