Congress Beginning to Show a Little Spine

Congress Beginning to Show a Little Spine March 15, 2019

It looks like Congress is finally becoming vertebrate enough to stand up to Trump, and not just Democrats. Three votes in the last couple days have shown them stand up and defy Trump on several important issues and many Republicans joined Democrats in doing so. This can’t be anything but good news.

First, the Republican-controlled Senate voted on Wednesday for a resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing campaign in Yemen, which the UN calls the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world right now. The vote was 54-46, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats in voting for the bill. It will now go to the House, which passed similar legislation already. Unfortunately, they don’t have the votes to override a veto if Trump uses one. If he does, it will prove his own hypocrisy on the immigration issue, which he’s tried to frame as a humanitarian crisis. Here’s a real humanitarian crisis with tens of thousands of people killed by our allies using our own bombs and Trump could not possibly care less.

Then the Senate passed a bill that would end Trump’s emergency declaration and his authority under the National Emergencies Act to divert billions of dollars from other places to pay for the border wall he swore Mexico would pay for. This time, 12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the legislation, which is more than the four who had previously announced that they would do so. Republicans tried very hard to find a compromise that would avoid Trump having to veto the bill, which he has promised to do, but their efforts failed. In the end, many Republicans just could not support what they viewed as unconstitutional actions by Trump. Not nearly enough of them, but 12 is a surprisingly large number. Again, they don’t have enough votes to overturn a veto, but it’s still a good sign.

And finally, the House unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Department of Justice to make sure Robert Mueller’s entire final report in his investigation be sent to Congress and made available to the public as well. New Attorney General William Barr has to decide whether, and which parts, to release of the report. This resolution is not binding on him, but the fact that it’s unanimous and every Republican voted for it sends a powerful message that ratchets up the pressure on him to comply with it.

None of this is good enough, of course, but they’re still powerful statements and show that a growing number of Republicans are starting to break with Trump and do the right thing, at least once in a while. That by itself can’t be anything but good news for the country.

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