The president has ramped up his public fear campaign about the southern border, adding a prime-time address and a border visit stunt. With this new effort to scare Americans into supporting him, he’s also threatened a new attack on our ideals, norms and institutions: a declaration of a national emergency to grab power from Congress and act unilaterally. The threat is just the latest evidence that he is not interested in working with Congress or listening to the American people to find a solution.
The question on all of our minds is, can the president declare an emergency that he made up? Here are the facts:
- The President does have the power to declare a national emergency, even if Congress and the American people know it’s a farce.
- According to the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, emergencies expire in 1 year, unless extended, and are supposed to be reviewed by Congress every 6 months.
- Congress does have the power to block a presidential declaration of national emergency once it’s been made, by passing a resolution through both the House and Senate.
- Unfortunately, Congress largely has ignored its responsibility to oversee emergency declarations. Congress has never met to review declarations and there are currently 30 such declarations in effect right now.
But just because the president does have the legal ability to declare a fake emergency, doesn’t mean we should allow him to do so unchecked. Congress does have the power to fight back. If President Trump does declare a phony emergency, we will demand that Republicans and Democrats in Congress introduce and pass a bipartisan resolution blocking his dishonest declaration. We hope we can count on your voice of support should that happen.
The president has done everything he can to make us fear immigrants, hoping that he can scare us into giving him whatever he wants. But the emergency we’re facing isn’t from the border, it’s from a president with no respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, or the separation of powers. Trump is hardly the first world leader to be frustrated by the legal constraints on his power, and he certainly isn’t the first to declare phony emergencies to get around them. But wherever authoritarians have used emergency declarations to gain power, it has always come at the cost of liberty.
We cannot accept that in America. We deserve an honest debate on improving our immigration and border security systems. But that’s not what the president wants; he wants to power to act unfettered. Our nation was built on the belief that power must be constrained. Will you stand up with us against this abuse of power?