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Week In Politics: New N.C. Election And Emergency Border Declaration


The China tariff deadline is just one in a cascade of news events we're expecting next week. There is a North Korea summit, testimony from President Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, and on Tuesday, the House will vote on a bill to block the president's national emergency declaration on the border. That's where we are going to start our week in politics conversation. Our guests today are Tiana Lowe, who writes for the Washington Examiner. Thanks for being here.


SHAPIRO: And we have E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. Always good to have you, E.J.

E J DIONNE, BYLINE: Good to see you.

SHAPIRO: When President Trump announced the emergency declaration a week ago, he said he knew he would get pushback, and he has. States have filed lawsuits. And now the House is going to vote on Tuesday. This is what Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a conference call with reporters this morning.


NANCY PELOSI: The president's act is lawless and does violence to our Constitution and therefore to our democracy.

SHAPIRO: Tiana, Republicans were very concerned during the Obama administration about executive overreach. Do you expect any Republican lawmakers will support this House bill?

LOWE: Well, right now, the only Republican to come out publicly saying that they will support this resolution is Representative Justin Amash. But that being said, this resolution doesn't really do what Congress actually has to do. Right now, they've abdicated their responsibility to define what emergency powers truly are. And a resolution is one thing, but actually creating legislation to provide definitive legal bounds on the provisions and what constitutes the powers of the president to declare a national emergency - that would be a lot more powerful statement rather than a singular rebuke of this president.

SHAPIRO: But given that Senator Mitch McConnell has said he is going to support President Trump's emergency declaration, Congress taking that kind of a move or even something more modest doesn't seem very likely, E.J.

DIONNE: Well, I think it's a very good thing that this is coming to a vote because it will probably pass the House with maybe a few Republican votes. But then under the law, the Senate has to vote on it, and it seems to me that Republicans who like to call themselves constitutional conservatives - it's a very popular term - are really going to have, or at least should have, a hard time ceding all of this authority to Trump when he's really only doing it because Congress wouldn't appropriate money the way he wanted to appropriate it.

I actually agree that we need to revisit the emergency powers. I don't think it's that they - there aren't limits, but I think they're written in a way that give the president even more power than people realize because no one really expected a president to use emergency powers this - in this partisan or I would say irresponsible a way.

SHAPIRO: I wonder whether you each think that this House vote on Tuesday is more about protecting institutions and preserving the separation of powers, as Democrats argue, or is it about denying the president victory on his signature campaign promise? Tiana, what do you think?

LOWE: I do think that it's more about a rebuke of Trump because if you look at the breakdown of the funding, you know, the first $3.5 billion of what - of these three parts that have constituted emergency funding are not actually parts of emergency funding. There's only the $3.6 billion that's from actual emergency declaration. And again saying a singular resolution for Trump to be unable to use that $3.6 billion when he would already have to make it through almost $5 billion before then - which will take him well into 2020 to do so - that is a lot less powerful a statement than actually going back to the original National Emergencies Act and rewriting the law and taking the constitutional powers back. It is very possible that what Trump is doing is legal, but is it what the Founding Fathers intended in the Constitution - probably not.

SHAPIRO: E.J., what do you think this is about?

DIONNE: Well, there is a fundamental disagreement on the wall, and it's about that. But I do think it's fundamentally about presidential power and the abuse of it. And that's why I think there will be Republicans who are going to have to search their consciences. Marco Rubio, for example, has said critical things about this. Will they be there when the vote comes? I think this is a real test for a lot of Republicans in the Senate.

SHAPIRO: To move on to another topic - when Congress casts that vote next week, one district in North Carolina will not have a voting member. Yesterday, after a remarkable hearing, the state's Board of Elections voted to throw out the results from last November because of election fraud. The Republican in the race, Mark Harris, said this.


MARK HARRIS: Through the testimony I've listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called. It's become clear to me that the public's confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.

SHAPIRO: E.J., do you think Harris should get another shot at that seat?

DIONNE: No. I - you know, I think it's very odd, as a lot of people have pointed out, that, well, the guy cheated, so he gets to play the game all over again. I just don't know if there was a legal way to keep him off the ballot. There's a lot of - a lot of Democrats see an almost delicious irony in this. Here it was - the Republicans who have been charging all this in-person voter fraud - and a presidential commission had to be disbanded because it doesn't really exist - and now you have a Republican charged with voter fraud. Two good things here; one - this was decided in a nonpartisan way, which is a good thing, and secondly, Democrats were ready to refuse to cede Harris because of these obligations. It could have become a - it could have become a partisan fight. Now everybody can agree on the facts, and they can fight a new election again.

SHAPIRO: Tiana, does it seem odd to you that President Trump, who has often raised the specter of voter fraud, hasn't tweeted at all about this case?

LOWE: So I just saw that he finally condemned voter fraud of all kinds, you know, sort of in broad terms. But, obviously, when you tweet as much as the president does, what he doesn't emphasize says just as much as what he does emphasize. I think it is good, though, even if only in nominal terms that he does denounce the fact that this was a fairly obvious act of voter deception.

SHAPIRO: All right. In our last couple of minutes, I want to ask you both about something that one of the 2020 Democratic candidates proposed this week. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren rolled out a plan that would give all Americans affordable child care paid for with a tax on multimillionaires. And, of course, this is after Ivanka Trump proposed a child tax credit. Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are talking about affordable child care. Do you both think that there is a growing bipartisan sense that the U.S. should make it easier for working parents to be working parents - Tiana?

LOWE: When you frame it like that, then I believe it's a positive thing. But I don't think that that's what these bills necessarily do. If you look at these paid parental leave acts, I mean, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber found that women bear 100 percent of the economic burden of all paid parental leave programs because disproportionately women are the ones to take time off. There is a reason why 10 percent more women are in management positions in America than in Scandinavian countries, and it's because women are kept in the workplace, and a lot of these programs disincentivize women from staying in the workplace.

SHAPIRO: E.J., briefly, I want to give you the last word.

DIONNE: I think a lot of women are forced out of the labor force because they are - we give so little support to women who actually work and have to - in most - in many cases have to work to support their families. I like this proposal for the reasons Paul Krugman described. It's a realistic, medium-sized proposal that will help solve a problem. Democrats should be talking about more of those.

SHAPIRO: That's E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution and Tiana Lowe of the Washington Examiner. Thank you both for joining us and have a great weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.