A conservative take on declaring a national emergency.
The U.S. has slowly moved from one big question to another. What does it mean to be in a government shutdown? What does it mean for President Donald Trump to declare a national state of emergency? Is he even allowed to do such a thing?
As the resolution that temporarily reopened the government neared an end, Trump signed the bill to permanently reopen the government, and also declared a national emergency to build the border wall.
The first important question that arose from this decision is whether or not Trump has the power to do this. According to the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president does have the power to declare a national emergency without going through Congress. According to U.S. Code Title 10, the president may “in the event of a declaration of war or the declaration by the President of a national emergency in accordance with the National Emergencies Act,” to undertake “military construction projects, and may authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”
This logic is quite flawed. It’s a hard argument to make that the military needs to take control of this situation and go over the heads of Congress, even when they have failed to pass a law.
After establishing Trump is legally able to do this, how can we as Americans blame him for trying to keep a campaign promise?
Trump has made every attempt at building his wall as fair a way as possible. He waited for Congress to grant him a decent sum of money with a funding bill, then decided to stand strong and shutdown the government to force Congress to negotiate. Once he realized it was hurting people, he decided to reopen the government temporarily and give Congress another chance to compromise. Ultimately, he decided it was not worth it to cause the American working class to lose their paychecks again. There were no other options on the table at this point. If he wanted a wall built, he was not going to get it through Congress.
So, what will happen now? This is where the Republican party sees the problem in the national emergency. Declaring a state of emergency will likely be contested in court, and the courts will likely strike down what he has to say. In this case, both parties will win. Trump tried to get his wall for his base and Democrats can say that they did not cave to the President’s demands. In the end, the country is back where it started.
Another issue that becomes easily apparent is that if the national emergency is actually upheld, the president will have expanded the executive branch dramatically. He has opened the path for future presidents to declare national emergencies over just about anything.
Less than 24 hours after Trump’s speech announcing his plans for the wall, Ilhan Omar, a fresh-faced Congresswoman from Minneapolis tweeted her thoughts.
“Our next President should declare a #NationalEmergency on day 1 to address the existential threat to all life on the planet posed by Climate Change,” Omar tweeted.
This thought is terrifying because the president was never intended to have this kind of power. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended when they created a system of checks and balances in our government. The president was intended to sign bills into law, use his bully pulpit and help Congress with appointment and treaty-making. The expansion of the Executive power creates a lopsided system which can be exploited.
The last disappointing part is there will most likely be no wall. If the National Emergency gets shut down in the courts, Trump will not be able to use military funding to build his wall. This will greatly upset his voter base, and if Trump wants to keep his campaign promise, I would suggest he go back to shutting down the government.
In the signed bill to reopen the government, there was an allotted $1.375 billion for border funding. If Democrats are willing to give him even a penny, the argument that the wall is immoral is a faulty one, and the wall instead must truly be seen as somewhat necessary by both sides, an inconvenient reality for Democratic optics. Trump should remain strong on what he wants to be done. If he does not get this wall built, he hurt his reelection odds. .
With lawsuits already being thrown at the president, this emergency is likely to blow over like all his previous attempts to get the wall built. However, the president must stand strong on his campaign promise. This is not about what looks good; this is about national security.