Trump threatens to declare ‘national emergency’ for wall: What is national emergency?
Washington, Jan 28: US President Donald Trump on Friday, January 25, announced that the month-long government shutdown in the country would end but for three weeks only and vowed to see it resume if his dream of building a wall along Mexico border was not met.
Trump was scheduled to address the nation on Tuesday, January 29, which will interrupt the prime-time broadcast networks for the first time in his two-year presidency so far.
Trump has also announced that he will announce a national emergency if he failed to reach a deal on the border to reach out for more power to make his electoral promise a success.
By invoking the national emergency, the Republican president could potentially flag off the building of his pet project and end the shutdown permanently proclaiming that he won in the battle with his political opponents. But such a scenario would also see the Democrats retaliating by kicking off a legal battle.
Now, what exactly is the national emergency that Trump is eyeing to drive home his project?
According to a report by the US-based Brennan Center for Justice, both the president and the Congress can declare a national emergency whenever they deem it fit.
The New York Times explains the situation as: "While the underlying data doesn't support parts of the Trump administration's argument about the dangers at the souther border - for example, the number of illegal immigrants has decreased over the last two decades and, according to the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, there is "no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States" - the president nonetheless can rule it an emergency."
As per the National Emergencies Act 1976, the Congress too has power to end a state of emergency as announced by a president. However, such a scenario has not occurred in four decades, according to the Brennan Center's report.
The president, on the other hand, has declared at least 58 states of national emergency, excluding events related to weather, USA Today said.
Barack Obama, the then president, declared a national emergency amid the outbreak of H1N1 in 2009.
The current Congress also seems not to terminate a national emergency if proclaimed by Trump given its current constitution for doing so would need the legislature a joint resolution and a signature from the president, PEOPLE reported.
National emergency gives US president more than 100 statutory powers!
The emergency powers give the president to capacity to safeguard the nation's safety and particularly in a crisis, he has to be empowered to act swiftly as and when required. According to the Brennan Center, the president can use from 136 additional statutory powers in case of a national emergency and in the current situation, two can be applied to the border wall.
Two statues that may apply to wall
As per the first, the president can use funding which has been allocated to military construction to begin "military construction projects not otherwise authorised by law".
And the second empowers him to divert troops and other resources from the Department of Army civil work projects and use them for "authorized civil works, military construction and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense."
These statutes have legal cover in case the president declares a state of emergency to fund construction of the but questions could be raised whether the wall qualified as a military construction or if the Congress has authorised the wall, the PEOPLE report said.