The Republican Party cheerleading session that is the Southern Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner veered slightly off course Saturday with this pronouncement by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green: “I can’t vote to give extra-Constitutional powers to the president.”
In a speech to the crowd of nearly 200 Republican officeholders and supporters at Western Kentucky University’s Augenstein Alumni Center, Paul interjected, in a speech devoted largely to praising the work of President Donald Trump, his opinion that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border is a dangerous precedent.
“I can’t vote to give the president the power to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress,” Paul said just moments after drawing applause for his praise of some Trump policies and his ridicule of some congressional Democrats. “We may want more money for border security, but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.”
Paul’s pronouncement may mean a rebuff in the Senate of Trump’s plan to use emergency powers to funnel billions of dollars into building a wall at the border. The Democrat-led House of Representatives has already voted to reject the emergency powers, and the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote on a similar proposal soon.
Three GOP senators – Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina – have already said they will vote to derail the emergency declaration. If Paul joins them and the Senate’s 47 Democrats, the president will need to veto the measure in order to get his emergency money.
But Paul’s announcement of his intention to vote against the emergency powers was the lone discordant moment in an event that is the Warren County Republican Party’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Paul himself lauded Trump for his judicial appointments, particularly Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He also called Trump’s State of the Union address a “great speech” and praised his stand against socialism and his comment that “great nations don’t fight endless wars.”
In his remarks, State Rep. Michael Meredith of Brownsville said: “This is a positive time to be a Republican in southcentral Kentucky.”
He cited the representation of Paul, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green as well as Republican control of the majority of statewide offices as signs that the GOP is on the upswing.
A night devoted to singing the GOP’s praises was also an opportunity for Republican candidates for some statewide offices to introduce themselves.
The guests at the dinner heard from Secretary of State candidates Michael G. Adams, general counsel for the Republican Governors Association; Andrew English, general counsel for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration; Steven Knipper, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton; and Carl Nett, a former Secret Service agent who wants to run using the “Trump” nickname.
Also giving brief introductions were lieutenant governor candidates Ralph Alvarado, a Clark County physician and 28th District state senator who is on the ticket with Bevin; and Mike Hogan, who was selected as running mate by State Rep. Robert Goforth of Laurel County.
Attorney general candidates Wil Schroder – a state senator from Campbell County – and Daniel Cameron – former legal counsel to McConnell – were introduced along with Agriculture Commissioner candidate Bill Polyniak, president of the Kentucky Cannabis Co.
David Graham, chairman of the Warren County Republican Party, said the Lincoln Day Dinner has been held annually in Bowling Green for more than 20 years. He expected it to raise more than $5,000 this year.