President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate committee to investigate origin of, response to coronavirus pandemic Amash teases possibility of third-party presidential bid Overnight Health Care: Trump fires back at critics during briefing | Trump claims he has authority on when to reopen states | Governors form groups to discuss plans | Fauci offers support to Trump | House delays return MORE‘s claim that he has “total” authority to decide when and how to reopen parts of the country shuttered by the coronavirus is sparking congressional backlash, including from members of his own party.
Trump, speaking during a White House press briefing Monday, said he has the “authority” to force governors, who have been issuing the stay-at-home orders, to reopen schools, businesses and other institutions in their states.
But GOP lawmakers, as well as Democrats, fired back Tuesday, sending a warning shot to Trump that under the Constitution he does not have unlimited powers. They also warned against overreaching.
“The constitution doesn’t allow the federal gov’t to become the ultimate regulator of our lives because they wave a doctor’s note,” Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulKentucky governor announces state will record license plate information of church attendees, impose mandatory quarantine Florida Republican becomes sixth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) tweeted Tuesday.
“Powers not delegated are RESERVED to states & the PEOPLE. If we dispense with constitutional restraints, we will have more to worry about than a virus,” added Paul, who has also been critical of governors he views as going too far during the pandemic.
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies Senate blocks dueling coronavirus relief plans Five problems banks face in getting coronavirus relief out the door MORE (R-Fla.) said that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House would be providing guidelines, the Constitution and “common sense” dictate that decisions about when to reopen shuttered parts of the country are made at the state level.
“It’s going to be the governors that are going to make decisions about when certain activities are allowed. … That is the appropriate place where I think some of these orders will begin to be modified,” Rubio said, adding that the federal guidance would be “influential.”
Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyHouse GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans Scott Gottlieb becomes key voice warning Trump, GOP on coronavirus Self-quarantined New York lawmaker: ‘We should be in total lockdown’ MORE (R-Wyo.) didn’t directly mention Trump but tweeted Monday night that “the federal government does not have absolute power.”
Republicans were joined by Democrats, and some governors, as well as Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash teases possibility of third-party presidential bid Amash knocks Trump tweet about power to ‘open up’ states: ‘Read the Constitution’ House Armed Services chairman calls for removal of Navy chief MORE (I-Mich.), who left the Republican Party last year.
Amash and Democratic Reps. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiDemocrats eye remote voting options Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Safety in sick leave MORE (N.J.) and Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsEmpowering youth peacebuilders will make U.S. foreign policy more effective Lawmakers call for unemployment benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: ‘We are the captains of this ship’ MORE (Minn.) unveiled a one-page resolution on Tuesday that states “when someone is the president of the United States, their authority is not total.”
“State governments are not local branches of the federal government; they have different powers and functions. Putting one government in charge of everything does not strengthen our system; it weakens our system and makes everyone more vulnerable to serious errors,” Amash added in a tweet.
When, and how, to reopen shuttered parts of the country has emerged as a key point of debate within the government.
Trump has appeared eager to reopen the country sooner rather than later as the coronavirus has wrecked havoc on the U.S. economy months before the 2020 election.
He’s expected to announce a panel on Tuesday that will be tasked with determining the criteria for lifting coronavirus restrictions.
Governors of six northeast states announced on Monday they were forming a group to create joint recommendations on how to reopen their economies.
Democratic senators are planning to introduce legislation to create a 10- to 15-member panel that would be responsible for coming up and implementing a plan to reopen closed parts of the country.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocratic senators want to create panel to determine how to reopen country Romney, Murphy introduce bill to name global health coordinator, council amid coronavirus pandemic Warren, Casey urge protections for disabled and older adults amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-Conn.), one of the senators backing the bill, said it should be up to governors and mayors, in consultation with the White House, to make the decisions about reopening the country.
“It is not true that the president has the complete and unchecked authority to override a state decision,” Murphy said in a conference call. “Right now this president appears to have gone somewhat off the rails, I don’t want him in charge of whether kids in my state go back to school.”
Updated at 2:26 p.m.