This is not a national emergency: Congress must update the National Emergency Act – Washington Examiner

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has decided to embrace his inner Harry Reid and greenlight President Trump’s emergency declaration.

As John Yoo noted earlier this month, the courts may find that Trump is within his rights to mobilize the military to build the wall when his gambit is inevitably challenged for its legality. Even Youngstown v. Sawyer, which reversed former President Harry Truman’s seizure of private steel mills to supply the military during the Korean War, wouldn’t necessarily imply that Trump would be out-of-bounds building the wall on land not privately owned.

Congress has failed to define the legal bounds of what is or isn’t an emergency, but surely, the term was never meant to deal with this.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are apprehended at our nation’s southern border every year, meaning that the number of immigrants illegally entering the country could be greater by an order of magnitude. A sovereign nation, even one which embraces the free flow of labor, must defend its borders for security’s sake, and Democrats calling a physical barrier “immoral” either don’t understand the few hundred miles along our border that would see fewer illegal crossings with a wall, or they simply don’t care.

But we know that this is not a national emergency for the same reason we knew it wasn’t a national emergency a month ago, when Trump first touted this idea: We’re all still here.

The threat of illegal immigration mirrors that of climate change. Both must be dealt with at some point, and both loom large as possible catastrophes. But neither issue is immediate. We teach children that 911 is only for instant dangers. We have to teach the president that emergency powers are the same.

What sort of precedent are we willing to accept here? Do we want “President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” to declare a state of emergency to slaughter all the farting cows and ground the entire airline industry in 2028? Just like then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nuking the filibuster has since backfired against Democrats who can no longer block Trump’s judicial nominees, this emergency declaration could bite Republicans in the near future.

Furthermore, the declaration of a state of emergency will essentially punt the border security issue to the courts. This will help Democrats shirk accountability over their unwillingness to protect Americans and do their jobs. Just as the Democratic Party seemed on the edge of crumbling under the weight of their own extremism and economic illiteracy, Trump had to come along and steal back the spotlight.

It’s past time for Congress to step up to the plate and pass an update to the National Emergency Act. The law needs a clear definition of the conditions under which the president can declare a national emergency. If members of Congress don’t step up with this, they ought not issue a single gripe, tweet, or moan decrying Trump’s power grab, because it might well be legal even if it’s not in line with the historical consensus.

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