The overwhelming majority of Donald Trump critics are, regardless of their particular ideological orientation, utterly humorless.
But Barbara Boxer, the liberal former California senator, was refreshingly mirthful when talking about the President on MSNBC Wednesday night with host Chris Hayes.
They were discussing speculation that if Congress did not authorize money for Trump’s sacred wall he would move money around from other areas of government to fund it. This has been called unconstitutional because he would be spending funds without congressional approval—money that was actually appropriated for something else.
Speculating about how Trump might appropriate the money Boxer said any such move by Trump would be a recipe for disaster.
“He could take money from battling wildfires in states all across the country,” she speculated. “I heard one congressman say there’s funding for an academy, a military academy. He’s got his eyes on that, because if it hasn’t been contracted for, he thinks he can grab the money.”
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for him to do that, because the Constitution says spending is a priority of the House,” she said. “It starts in the House.”
“So I think he’s just – he’s cruising for a bruising” by “trying to , I think, steal money from other important priorities, from Congress.”
On Wednesday afternoon Trump, perhaps not wanting to take the beating Boxer envisioned, agreed to sign legislation approved by the Senate to keep the government funded and avoid another shut down. It provides only $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fencing along the Texas border.
The President had demanded $5.7 billion for 234 miles of border barriers. To appease conservatives, particularly Fox News host Sean Hannity, who had excoriated the proposed deal, Trump said he would declare a national emergency in order to get funds to build a wall. This would involve using money that Congress had not appropriated for any particular purpose—as opposed to using the appropriated funds Boxer was talking about. It would likely pass legal muster, many experts say.
But declaring a national emergency could face other legal challenges–like assertions that there is not a crisis on the border to justify the declaration. Or lawsuits from private land owners whose property would be expropriated under the doctrine of eminent domain to make way for the wall.
On MSNBC Boxer was also witty when noting that Trump had previously turned down an earlier congressional deal that would have given him much more money for the wall.
Referring to the real estate magnate’s 1987 book that helped him make his name, Art of the Deal, Boxer said that, “Now he can write a book, How to Lose a Deal.”
Boxer served as California senator from 1993 until her retirement in 2017. She was succeeded by Kamala Harris.
She now runs the PAC for Change. During the 2018 midterm elections it sought to oust GOP California congressmen and women who supported Trump.
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