Despite having only been in office for eight months, President Ocasio-Cortez pushed forward with a move that has angered her critics and even given pause to some of her supporters.
Following the failure of her Green New Deal in Congress last month, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez followed through on a campaign promise to declare a national emergency if Congress would not follow through with her proposal. The bill initially passed the House by a wide majority, but ultimately failed in the Senate, as defectors from her own Party — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and Doug Jones of Alabama — felt the bill was too extreme and unworkable.
“We simply need a bill that is more specific in its intentions; I believe Climate Change is happening and that man’s activities are the primary cause, but this isn’t the right bill to address those issues,” said Mr. O’Rourke. Mr. Manchin had reservations about what the bill’s aggressive language would do the economy of his home state. “I’m not sure this bill is right for West Virginia,” he said in a statement following its failure. Mr. Manchin only submitted his vote after Mr. Jones’s vote officially ended the bill’s chances in the Senate.
Many Democrats had hoped the bill would pass given that the elimination of the filibuster and Democratic control of the Senate has allowed for a flurry of legislative activity this year, but many of the Senators were facing stark political realities in their home states. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s Secretary of Energy, Ilhan Omar, reiterated her point that the bill’s failure shows that the Senate is unworkable and un-democratic. “We will always have problems with the Senate, because states like Wyoming — which has only 620,000 people — have the same amount of representation as states with one hundred times as many people,” she said.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to declare a national emergency has resulted in some Democrats expressing their reservations, but ultimately she is not facing any serious opposition. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that her attempt to declare a national emergency was “unconstitutional on its face,” but offered no specifics about how Republicans planned to challenge her move. Senator Lindsey Graham similarly stated that, “Anyone who supports a move such as this cannot seriously argue that they support democracy. This is a power move by a President who is destroying our institutions and ignoring democratic norms.”
Some Republicans have promised that a challenge in federal court will stall the proposal, but most legal experts say that is unlikely. In a narrow 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of former President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency so that a wall could be built along the souther border in 2019. Although many conservatives promise that a similar challenge will be brought to the Supreme Court, the make up of the court — now heavily liberal after the Democrats appointed 10 new justices to the court in January of this year — makes a successful legal challenge unlikely.
Democrats dismiss such criticisms as hypocrisy on the part of Republicans, who supported similar moves by President Trump when he was in office. Reached for comment, the former President said that when he declared a national emergency, “It was very much an emergency, a great emergency, and I did a good thing declaring the emergency because there was much of it, and when she does it she doesn’t even say there is an emergency she just says, ‘Climate, climate climate.’ Let me tell you, I know weather, I get great weather from my people here and they tell me nothing is wrong with the weather.”
Mr. Trump could not expand on his remarks because he is limited in his communications while serving his sentence at FCI Otisville. He is due to be released in eight years.
Reached for comment, the Republican Party’s current communications director, Comfortably Smug, only said, “We could’ve had Jeb.”