National emergency declaration leaves 16 states awaiting governmental action
Sixteen states have now sued President Donald Trump over implementing a state of national emergency, and citizens are awaiting responses from the legislative and judicial branches.
After signing a deal with Congress that offered $1.4 billion for border security, Trump declared a national emergency Feb. 15 in an attempt to pull the remainder of his proposed $5.7 billion for a border wall from other places.
In his declaration from the Rose Garden, Trump explained his hopes to expedite the wall building process through the national emergency.
“I wanted to do it faster,” Trump said. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.”
Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Tom Pope said he felt this move was unusual action for the president to take.
“With Congress denying the funding to build the wall, he can subvert normal legislative allocation by declaring a national emergency,” Pope said. “His declaration in this time, at this time of ambiguity, seems unprecedented.”
President Trump, in response to congressional refusal for the funding, exercised his presidential power through the National Emergencies Act (NEA).
NEA Section 201 authorizes the president to declare a national emergency. Under NEA Section 301, he must also declare the objective of the national emergency.
Congress has the power to revoke the emergency if they get a majority vote within 15 days of the proposal.
According to USA Today, Trump is trying to tap into money from the military, Department of the Treasury and Department of Defense in connection with his concerns about terrorism and illegal drugs. The consequences of shifting around money from these departments are unclear.
Pope said Trump is trying to appeal to voters by showing he is keeping his promises, but Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Mark Scully said this attempt to subvert the legislative branch only increases governmental tensions.
While there is very little historical precedent for a president’s national emergency declaration to be overruled by another branch of government, it happened once in 1952.
Pope referred to former president Harry Truman’s administration, which declared a national emergency during a steel workers’ strike that affected the nation’s ability to prepare for the Korean War.
At that time, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling against Truman, who tried to use the national emergency declaration to seize control of the nation’s steel mills.
Trump is at odds with Congress and legal cases are exploding at him, but it remains to be seen who the courts will side with.
According to the New York Times, 16 states, at this time, have sued Trump over his plan to access funding using emergency powers.
Pope said that the Supreme Court will often side with the president’s national emergency declaration in times of war, but considering the circumstances, the judicial branch may not have as much sympathy.
“He is trying to leverage his power as commander-in-chief, and given that there is no actual war, Trump’s power could be limited,” said Pope.
Congress has the opportunity to undo Trump’s declaration until March 2.