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The National Emergencies Act Is Not a Blank Check


The National Emergencies Act Is Not a Blank Check

Brianne Gorod

For weeks, President Trump has been threatening to declare a “national emergency” in order to get funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to media reports, he plans to invoke a decades-old federal law called the National Emergencies Act to “declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States.” But there’s a flaw with this plan: there’s no “national emergency.” And that matters.



The National Emergencies Act’s drafting history supports the view that Congress had no intention of giving the President unlimited discretion in this area

And yet here we are with a paranoid and delusional Donald Trump ready to use NEA and put the law’s fuzzy definition of what constitutes a national emergency to the test. If the law was never intended to expand the power of the presidency, it should never have been given to a president to use in the first place. Don’t the fools in Congress ever read any history? History is full of examples of tyrants bypassing the laws of the land by declaring national emergencies. This dangerous, foolish and completely unnecessary piece of %*&^ legislation should never have been passed.



Maybe tRump, the grand disrupter, won’t back-down next time. He didn’t know about the NEA. Someone on his staff told him about it after he asked “what can I do to get my wall?” He only cares about getting what he promised one way or another. He yearns to have power like the dictators he admires. If the congress doesn’t compromise and presents another proposal to him he can’t accept, I expect he will not shutdown the government again, but will declare a national emergency instead. If this happens, it will bring on a real national emergency.

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It’s still possible for Pelosi to bargain for a jobs and infrastructure package or promissory MFA.
Or money for the safety net.



Well, now we know: no shutdown, a national emergency declared, and a constitutional challenge. This is a test of the system. If the SCOTUS allows tRump’s fund grab and does not uphold the Constitution’s separation of powers, the US will have taken one more step on the road to a presidential dictatorship that it has been on for decades. This is what courts do for the strong men, not what a court ought to do in a democratic republic where the power of the purse is given to a representative body of the people.

This is a test. Will the US survive? The resignation of a President. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The collapse of the Soviet Union. The 911 payback. Now this. We are living in interesting times.