BY FRANK SALVATO
It is a misnomer that President Trump has “shutdown”, at least partially, the US government. That Nancy Pelosi, the Progressive Speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, the pandering Democrat Minority Leader in the US Senate, attempt to hoodwink the American people into believing this nonsense is testimony to their disregard for the intelligence of the American people.
The fact of the matter is this. Since civics and government are not mandatory classes in junior high school and high school any longer, many simply do not understand how the funding of government is executed. Congress allocated the funding. The President either signs the legislation funding the government into law or he vetoes the legislation. To date there has been no legislation passed out of Congress for the President to sign, ergo, Congress has shut down government, at least partially.
And before any of the usual subjects from the propagandizing Left insist that the Republican-led Senate is doing “The Donald’s” evil bidding, I would remind them that if the McConnell-run US Senate were a Trump rubber stamp the wall would already be built and Obamacare would have been repealed outright. The idea of a puppet Republican Senate is a bigger lie than “Trump shutdown government.”
This brings us to a perfect example of politics taking priority over government.
The US Constitution states, in Article II, Section 3:
“[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper;…”
Traditionally, because there is a separation of powers between the three co-equal branches of government, a formal invitation is offered by the Speaker of the House to the President, several weeks in advance, to appear during a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union Address. Speaker Pelosi has declined to offer an invitation to President Trump. This move is purely a political move on Mrs. Pelosi’s part and has nothing to do with a “shutdown of government,” despite her insistence.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29,” Pelosi wrote to the President in a letter to the President.
For the record, the US Secret Service, albeit affected by Congress’s refusal to act on funding legislation, continues to protect the President and high-ranking members of Congress. This codifies the fact that Mrs. Pelosi is pandering for political purposes.
And while it has been a contemporary practice for a president to deliver the State of the Union Speech to a joint session of Congress, history reveals that this hasn’t always been the case. From Thomas Jefferson’s Administration to Woodrow Wilson’s, the State of the Union message was delivered to Congress in writing and read allowed by a clerk in both chambers. To wit, there is no requirement that the State of the Union Address be a formal speech to a joint session of Congress. Jefferson called the extravaganza too “monarchical,” likening it to a monarch’s speech from the throne.
So, there are a few options open to the President for satisfying his constitutional duty to executing the mandate in Article II, Section 3.
First, he could deliver a written copy of the address to both chambers of Congress, as was done before him, and call it a day. The truth is, these speeches are nothing more than a gigantic back-patting session for the elected self-important class. The American people glean very little information from this event that the media hasn’t already ground into our skulls in depth.
Second, Mr. Trump could, again, deliver a written copy of his address to both chambers of Congress and then go live to the American people from the Oval Office. He would then be able to explain that Mrs. Pelosi and her Progressive obstructionist clan were trying to keep information from the American people for political purposes. Again, this would satisfy his obligation to the Constitution, but it would be a return political volley.
A Third solution, I believe, would ring well with an American people who are desperately sick of the partisan politics that has held us all hostage for decades; the overwhelming number of Americans who believe politicians have incredibly too much power over our lives, are compensated to an extreme for what they actually do in our name, and who want to see a massive downsizing of the Federal government’s purview. This thirds solution revolves around the words “shall convene.”
As a preface, the definition of “convene”, per Merriam-Webster: “to summon before a tribunal; to cause to assemble.”
A literal reading of Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution states that the president has the power to – on “extraordinary occasions” – “convene both Houses, or either of them…” That indicates that the President of the United States has the authority to invoke Article II, Section 3 to force both houses into an assembly to execute his constitutional duty to deliver the State of the Union Address; the President could “summon” or “cause to assemble” both chambers.
So, why is solution number three preferable to all others? It gives President Trump control of the narrative about the shutdown in a non-political manner. The Constitution is about government, not politics. Using the power of the Constitution to execute government over politics highlights the partisan political games that Democrats and Progressives are playing with the State of the Union speech and the so-called government shutdown. In fact, by summoning the Legislative Branch to “convene” the President would have every right to chastise Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer for attempting to degrade the US Constitution for politically opportunistic purposes.
That would ring true with an American people who are tired of being bled to death by the never-ending increase in taxation, the grotesque encroachment of government onto our guaranteed freedoms, and a political class that enriches itself on the backs of the citizenry.
President Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned the American people about factions (read: political parties) in government:
“The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
One need only look to the pathetic display of politics over government at the hand of the Democrat Party to fully understand just how much a visionary George Washington was. One need only look to Washington’s words to understand that we have arrived at the moment of which he warned; a time where partisan ideologues have elevated themselves “on the ruins of public liberty.”
Like our President or not, Mr. Trump is an outsider to the professional political circus. I, for one, pray that he chooses option three and forces the political factions to engage in government. After all, that’s what they actually get paid to do: govern, not politick.