Opinion piece by Steve Vladeck Whatever ultimately becomes of Trump’s threat, or of the debate over the wall more generally, Congress ought to use this episode as an excuse to revisit the National Emergencies Act. Steve Vladeck Professor, University of Texas School of Law The possibility that President Donald Trump might declare a “national emergency” so that he could gain access to the funds he’d need to build his border wall without a new appropriation from Congress has set off a debate over the troubling scope of the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Earlier in January, Trump claimed he was tabling that idea, but a new report from CNN on Thursday suggests he may yet declare an emergency. Whatever happens, the fact that that option remains a possibility raises some important questions about potential executive overreach. As most Americans have been surprised to discover, the National Emergencies Act gave the president the power to declare a “national emergency” (and to thereby unlock hundreds of special statutory authorities that are only available in such cases), without defining what a “national emergency” actually is. In the process, Congress left the door wide open, at least legally, for presidents to use the act… Read full this story
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