Patterico's Pontifications


Will Trump Declare an Emergency Tonight?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Will Trump declare a national emergency in his short speech from the Oval Office tonight? The #FAKENEWS WSJ says he is still undecided. Tune in to find out in a very special episode of “The Trump Presidency: National Emergency”! Meanwhile, The #FAKENEWS WaPo says Trump may be able to declare an emergency, but the road from that declaration to $$$$$ for steel slats may be bumpy:

In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, which permits the president to pronounce a national emergency on a whim, at his discretion. The act offers no definition of “emergency.” It lays out no required criteria; it demands no showing by the president.

Declaring a national emergency also gives the president access to dozens of laws with specialized funds he otherwise would not have.

There are several significant caveats and, while it may be easy to declare a national emergency, Trump cannot just do whatever he wants.

One statute provides for “unobligated funds originally set aside for military construction projects” if the national emergency involves the military, and another “permits a president to divert funds from Army civil works projects and reprogram them” but still may require further authorization. Then there is the issue of seizing land through eminent domain through a claim of military necessity. Read the piece for a fuller discussion of the legal niceties.

A lot of this sounds like the kind of stuff that alarmists warned about Obama. Not that he would build a wall, silly! No, I mean that he would announce sweeping legislative-style solutions for problems that require Congress’s approval.

And he did. And we didn’t like it.

And many of us claimed that it wasn’t just the policy that bothered us, but the affront to the concept of the separation of powers.

And some of us meant it.

And some others didn’t.

We may have a chance to see in the coming days who was motivated by which team they were on, and who was motivated by issues of constitutional principle.

I try to be an optimistic guy, but recent history gives me little hope for optimism here.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

P.S. No comments here. Direct your comments to Dana’s post.

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