On Feb. 15, 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency. This national emergency regards the border Mexico and United States, and gives Trump access to billions of dollars that Congress didn’t give him to build the border wall. After battling with Congress for two-months over border wall funding, Trump decided that the best course of action for our country was to declare a national emergency.
“We’re going to be signing, today, and registering a national emergency,” Trump said during his national address. Declaring a national emergency gives Trump special power, which he says will help him fund a wall along the US-Mexico border.
To political analysts, the national emergency is no surprise. Back in January, when Trump signed an agreement that allowed the government to reopen, one of the options Trump alluded to was the possibility of a national emergency.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United State to address this emergency,” Trump said to the nation. After declaring the national emergency, Trump said, “I want to get it done faster, that’s all.”
The National Emergencies Act was enacted in 1976. It empowers the president to take on special, temporary powers during a crisis. The president can declare a national emergency if the nation is “threatened by crisis, exigency, or emergency circumstances.” Many legal limits on the president’s authority are lifted when a national emergency is declared.
To effectively declare a national emergency, the president must make a formal declaration and specify what authority will be used. For example, Trump plans to allocate military programming money to fund construction for a border wall.
With a liberal majority in the House of Representatives, and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, the possibility of obtaining money for the border wall was slim. On Feb. 15, the nation was faced with another government shutdown due to disagreements between the House and the Senate. The emergency was Trump’s way of avoiding another shutdown.
Congress can undo a state of emergency declared by the president with a veto-proof majority vote. The Nation saw this on Feb. 26 when the House voted to overturn Trump’s declaration, even with the support of 13 Republican legislators. The Senate is required to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks.
Some Republican legislators are struggling to decide what to do. Some are in support of the border wall, but are unhappy with Trump going above congressional powers to receive funding.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin made clear in session that he supported the border wall. “Insufficient action–however frustrating it may be – is still the prerogative of the legislative branch. It is imperative that no administration, Republican or Democratic, circumvent the will of Congress,” said Sensenbrenner.
Other Republican lawmakers have said that they will support the House’s resolution to overturn the National Emergency to ensure Congress maintains control of budgeting for the wall.
It’s clear to see that the heightened political climate isn’t getting any calmer. Before, the nation saw a battle between Democrats and Republicans on whether or not to fund a border wall. Now, there seems to be increased tension between Congress and Trump’s administration on who should control the allocation of funds.
It will be interesting to see if the Senate will vote to overturn Trump’s national emergency. If overturned, Trump’s campaign-promised border wall will be postponed even further.