In 1976, Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act which allows the President to use special executive powers during crisis situations. Since the act was passed, CBS News reports that 58 national emergencies have been declared by presidents, 31 of them are still in effect today.
On February 15, President Trump declared the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border was a national emergency, marking his fourth emergency declaration.
President Trumps decision to declare the immigration problem a national emergency was met with mixed emotions. While many supported the President’s ‘get it done’ mentality, others feared that it set a dangerous precedent for future presidents. According to the New York Times, President Trump’s emergency declaration is similar to declarations made by Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, in that the each of the declarations sought military construction associated with a war or conflict. Where the declarations are different, however, is that neither of the Bush presidents declared an emergency to reallocate funds after Congress had already rejected the proposal.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, following President Trump’s emergency declaration, 16 states filed suit against the president questioning the legality of the action.
The states’ decision to file suit against President Trump indicates that there is an apparent lack of clarity on the restraints on executive emergency powers.
To shed some light on the seemingly complex issue, here are examples of national emergencies declared by seven presidents since 1979.
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