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Trump’s National Declaration of Emergency: What Does it Mean For Congress?

On February 15th of 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in regards to the border wall and the process of funding for its construction. The border wall, which was Trump’s main agenda during the election and now his main goal within his administration was executively declared to be created using internal funds being diverted within the federal government.

The physical cost of the wall is approximately $25 billion including labor costs, land acquisition, resource costs and not to mention the entire size of the wall itself. $5 billion has been issued for the 2019 fiscal year which the president has claimed. The wall which would have been directly funded through the individual taxpayer has since then been changed due to the President’s declaration of national emergency.

The term “national emergency” can sound dire to the general public since not many presidents have used this executive power.

What exactly is a national emergency?

The President, Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Armies, has the authority to use military force for foreign or domestic affairs to a certain degree. A national emergency elevates that authorization and prioritizes the militant choices made by the president during a time of crisis whereas the American population or resources need to be protected through military force.

The President has been getting major heat from the House including Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House (D) and Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority leader (D), describing the declaration of emergency as “a power grab by a disappointed president,” (NBC 2019). Prior to the declaration of national emergency, the federal government resumed after a partial shutdown which was the longest in U.S. history.

Congress passed a spending bill which was a win for democrats— resuming the government and only appropriating $1.375 billion. As a result, the declaration was issued leaving legislators to believe it be necessary and some unconstitutional.

In Congress, certain representatives from both parties have mixed feelings to the President’s action. Lamar Alexander, Senator of Tennessee (R), expressed his animosity stating the executive action as “unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.” Marco Rubio, Senator of Florida (R) also agreed, further stating "We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.” (CBS News 2019).

2020 Democrats running for the presidency also expressed their outcry to the issue. Amy Klobuchar, Senator of Minnesota (D), claimed, "Not getting what you want to fulfill a campaign promise or chant is not a national emergency.” Klobuchar further stated that, “Taking money from real needs and emergencies is what will create an actual emergency." (CNN 2019).

Some representatives are in favor of the president’s decision. Lindsey Graham, Senator of South Carolina (R) “urged” the president for this declaration as a defender of improved border security. Steven Daines, Senator of Montana (R) is also in favor of the President’s national declaration. (FOX News 2019).

The process of the national emergency would direct fundings within the federal government, gathering $5 billion from several agencies which would come from the Treasury Department, the Pentagon, Defense Department, military expenditures and of course the funding from Congress (Which already had funded it’s $1.375 billion). In total, the president will accumulate over $8 billion, which is way above the margin of $5 billion for the fiscal year.

Under federal law, Congress can call for a joint resolution between the House and the Senate. The president can veto the resolution giving Congress the only option to override the executive decision with a two-thirds majority vote in favor against the President. Some democratic leaders in Congress stated that lawsuits and federal resolutions against the president are underway.

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