Jan. 11 -- To the Editor:

Two years into his administration, the President says he is prepared to declare a national emergency, and allocate money already appropriated for other purposes to cover his campaign promise of creating a Wall between the United States and Mexico. But of course, there is no national emergency sufficient to effectively override Congresss constitutional duty to appropriate tax dollars for specific purposes and reallocate those dollars into the fulfillment of a campaign promise. The threat of the declaration of a national emergency or worse, the actual declaration of one for this purpose, would be a remarkable act of defiance of the rule of law in this country. Conservatives, who characterize themselves as deeply devoted to the Constitution and the intent and words of its Framers, should be leading the charge against the Presidents consideration of such a rash act.

The Constitution divides the powers vested in the government between and among the political branches of government. It authorized the Congress to appropriate monies from the Treasury of the United States for specific purposes in the form of budget legislation. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 contains two clauses: The Appropriations Clause and the Statement and Accounts Clause: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time. In particular, the Statement and Account Clause is understood to require a national budget. This is a process of profound and serious give and take, and from time to time of considerable acrimony, as it is now, between the Congress and an Executive that wants specific spending priorities. The current shutdown of the government by President Trump features, insofar as we know, a single impediment to the adoption of a resolution allowing the government to remain open: strong disagreement over the use of in excess of $5,000,000,000.

This is a policy difference, not a national emergency. The Trump Administrations first two years with the earlier GOP Congress made clear that there was no such compelling emergency when he and they completely neglected this issue. During those two years, the President and GOP Congress:

Focused initially and briefly on healthcare, and failed to repeal the ACA or develop any meaningful healthcare reform;

Failed to lift a finger on infrastructure renovation and improvement;

Tinkered with NAFTA to no meaningful effect;

Attempted by Executive Order to prevent people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from visiting the country;

Exacerbated differences between and among the United States and its NATO allies;

Rolled back Obama-era environmental regulations aimed at maintaining clean air and water;

Passed three spending bills in an aggregate appropriation of $2.7 trillion.

None of these feckless efforts at governance by the GOP bothered to appropriate the $5-plus billion for the Presidents Wall even when his own party controlled the Presidency and both houses of the Congress. It is impossible to now declare an emergency over something so plainly ignored.

The reality is that this President has no major accomplishments, apart from allowing the Federalist Society to choose Justices for the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. No wall funding; no deal with China; no deal with North Korea; no healthcare reform; no protection of the electoral process; no tax reform benefiting the middle class; no infrastructure appropriation; no immigration reform. The President is in the news a lot, but he doesnt and cannot govern this large, diverse and complicated country. His only real emergency concerns his competency and viability as President.

Christopher Cole

Portsmouth