DN editorial: Senate needs to take things slow, keep Trump in check

3 x 2 US capitol
In this Jan. 25, 2017, photo, the Capitol in Washington at sunrise. A lot of politics is about the basics, and in Congress that means answering the phone. By that measure, life on Capitol Hill in the Trump era is a struggle.

'SHOCK AND AWE" was what President Trump's transition team envisioned, and that's what two weeks has produced: a near-avalanche of executive orders intended to overwhelm Congress (check) and show Trump's supporters that they're getting what they voted for. Another goal: to burst out of the gate before the majority of Americans who disapprove of him (over 50 percent, according to Gallup) had a chance to get themselves together. The idea is to flood the zone with so many different outrages that leaders and ordinary Americans alike are exhausted and overwhelmed.

That last part hasn't quite happened. Two weekends into Trump's America have produced two huge protests: the Women's March on Jan. 21, weeks in the planning, and the spontaneous outpouring of dissent against Trump's Muslim ban issued by executive order a week ago.

Not surprisingly, more than a few descendants of Holocaust survivors were among the tens of thousands of protesters in dozens of cities, including Philadelphia, last weekend. The denial of entry of refugees from Syria (three-quarters of them children and women, and all of them more "extremely vetted" than any other traveler to the United States) could be a matter of life and death for them. The ban also poses a threat to the rest of us, since it is likely to provoke an honest-to-goodness Constitutional crisis as the courts and the executive branch seem destined to clash.

The ban runs counter to the Constitution's guarantee of due process and religious liberty, not to mention the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that says no person may be "discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence." American values are at stake, said former President Obama on Monday in an extraordinary statement befitting this extraordinary time.

Of course, many Republican leaders, such as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who only a few months ago called such a ban "offensive" and "not reflections of America's fundamental values," now are all for it.

And spare us, please, the expressions of gratitude to Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham for opposing it. Their expressions of concern are hollow: Neither has plans to vote against Trump's attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the primary authors of the ban.

Events are moving quickly. The executive order was worked out in secret and put into effect by Department of Homeland Security staffers who did not fully understand it. Expect more assaults like this in the future.

It might be time to slow things down. The action group Indivisible, created by former Democratic congressional staffers, is asking members of its local groups to urge senators who oppose the ban to stop Senate business by "withholding consent," a parliamentary maneuver in which a single senator can delay proceedings.

It's a bold request, but, as the group puts it, "There's no reason that the Senate should be conducting business as usual when Trump is blatantly violating the Constitution and families are being ripped apart."

What you can do: Go to indivisibleguide.com to find a local Indivisible group (there are at least 70 in the area) or to read their script for calling senators.