Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a photo of President Trump signing an Declaration for a National Emergency. Sanders explained that the declaration was necessary because of the “national security and humanitarian crisis” on our southern border. The national emergency declaration is being widely criticized by leaders in the Democrat Party, as well as their allies in the media. Even some in the Republican Party are opposed to President Trump taking this drastic measure as a last resort to fund a wall on our southern border.
According to ABC News – The president explained his highly controversial move in a Rose Garden announcement, saying “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other.”
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 15, 2019
The president’s emergency declaration order and other executive actions come on the heels of warnings from the Justice Department that the moves are nearly certain to be blocked by court challenges, at least temporarily.
President Trump directly acknowledged that he expects the emergency order will be challenged in the court system, predicting how the battle will play out and that he will ultimately prevail at the Supreme Court.
“We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court just like the [travel] ban,” Trump said.
President Trump: "We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court…" pic.twitter.com/pYvliSM14b
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 15, 2019
According to Western Journal– Declaring a “national emergency” on the southern U.S. border would activate certain presidential authorities as specified in the National Emergencies Act of 1974, and would allow the president the flexibility to shift previously appropriated funds from other departments and agencies toward the construction of a border wall.
Of course, most Democrats cried foul at the notion and dismissed Trump’s authority to do so as non-existent, and such a move would inevitably draw immediate legal challenges, but Trump would actually be on solid legal footing. He also would not be the only president to make use of the National Emergencies Act to do what Congress can’t or won’t do.
On January 10, 2019, CNN inadvertantly plead the case for Trump’s national emergency to bypass Congress and build the border wall.
The US has been in a perpetual state of declared national emergency for four decades, and the country is currently under 31 concurrent states of emergency about a spectrum of international issues around the globe, according to a CNN review of documents from the Congressional Research Service and the Federal Register.
The National Emergencies Act of 1974 empowers the President to activate special powers during a crisis. Congress can undo a state of emergency declaration, but it would likely require a veto-proof majority, which is unlikely to come from the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday that Trump doesn’t have the authority to declare an emergency. “If Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this President doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion-dollar wall on the border. So, that’s a nonstarter.”
There were a total of six national emergencies during former President Ronald Reagan’s tenure, as well as four more during the administration of former President George H.W. Bush, all of which have ended.
Former President Bill Clinton declared 17 national emergencies — six of which remain in effect — while former President George W. Bush declared 12 national emergencies, of which 10 remain ongoing.
Then we get to former President Barack Obama, who declared 13 national emergencies, 11 of which continue to this day. Thus far, President Trump has declared three active and ongoing national emergencies.
Presidents declaring national emergencies is not some extraordinary or unusual thing, and Trump is fully within his rights under the law to do so if necessary.
Interestingly, it is the nature of the declared emergencies — particularly with regard to Trump and Obama — that can be somewhat gleaned from the accompanying list of titles for the 31 active national emergencies.
First, let’s look at the subjects of Trump’s three national emergencies, which block the property of individuals involved in “serious human rights abuses and corruption,” impose sanctions on those who interfere in U.S. elections, and block the property of individuals destabilizing Nicaragua. Two of those are focused on protecting America and American citizens and institutions, while one is focused on a foreign nation.
Of Obama’s 11 continuing national emergencies, nine of them were focused exclusively on foreign nations, while only one seemed focused on protecting America — a declaration aimed at punishing individuals “engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities.”
Obama utilized his Congressional-authorized national emergency powers to deal with problems in foreign nations, the bulk of which have proven ineffective and wasteful in terms of time and money.
Trump wants to use his presidential powers to help better the United States of America by making it a more secure place, while Obama used his powers to try and help the situations in foreign nations. The glaring difference between those priorities is quite telling — as is the staunch opposition to Trump’s doing so by Obama’s fellow Democrats.