President Trump Declares National Emergency in USA

The US president Donald Trump on 15th February 2019 had declared a national emergency to fund the US-Mexico border without congressional approval. This step has been described by the Democrats as unconstitutional and they have vowed to challenge it. 

What is the National Emergency in the USA?

The United States can be subjected to more than 30 national emergencies and can be declared for various reasons. The National Emergencies Act (NEA) 1976 formalizes the emergencies powers of the President. The Act empowers the President to activate special powers during a crisis but imposes certain procedural formalities when invoking such powers.

Since 1976, presidents have declared at least 58 states of emergency. Most of them were under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act which allows the president to impose economic sanctions. 

Why did President Trump Declare National Emergency?

  • President Trump had promised to construct a wall along the USA-Mexico border to stop illegal migration if voted to power.
  • This requires fencing of 322 km which costs about $ 5.7 billion.
  • The proposal was rejected by the US Congress and the country went into a 35-day partial government shutdown.
  • However, Congress passed a compromise bill providing President Trump with a mere $1.4 billion for a barrier along 90 kilometres of the border.
  • The declaration of the National emergency by President Trump would enable him to divert money from elsewhere from the federal budget, including funds for the U.S. military for the purpose of the construction of the wall along the border. 

Consequence of the National Emergency

President Trump is expected to face many legal and political challenges. Two lawsuits have already been filed against the National emergency. US Congress can also terminate a declared emergency by passing a joint resolution which is a difficult task.

The Democrats in power at the House of Representatives will have to convince the Republicans who control the Senate to join them in blocking the National Emergency. Then they would have to get a signature from the President himself who has declared the emergency. 

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