Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall – The New York Times

[President Trump declared a national emergency. What happens now?]

In addition to a legislative effort to stop Mr. Trump, the issue will almost certainly be taken to court, either by congressional Democrats, liberal advocacy groups or both. Legal experts have said the administration can make serious arguments to justify its move, but added that courts may decide that it is stretching the intent of the law. The Supreme Court is controlled by a five-member conservative bloc but in recent years has reined in Republican and Democratic presidents who were judged to be exceeding their authority.

White House officials rejected critics who said Mr. Trump was creating a precedent that future presidents could use to ignore the will of Congress. Republicans have expressed concern that a Democratic commander in chief could cite Mr. Trump’s move to declare a national emergency over gun violence or climate change without legislation from Congress.

“It actually creates zero precedent,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters on Friday morning. “This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted and waved a magic wand to get some money.”

Presidents have declared national emergencies under a 1970s-era law 58 times and 31 of those emergencies remain active. But most of them dealt with foreign crises and involved freezing property or taking other actions against national adversaries, not redirecting money without explicit congressional authorization.

White House officials cited only two times that such emergency declarations were used by presidents to spend money without legislative approval — once by President George Bush in November 1990 during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War and again by his son, President George W. Bush, in November 2001 after the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

In both of those cases, the presidents were responding to new events — the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Al Qaeda’s assault on America — and were moving military money around to use for military purposes. Neither was taking action specifically rejected by Congress.

In Mr. Trump’s case, he is defining a longstanding situation at the border as an emergency even though illegal crossings have actually fallen in recent years. And unlike either of the Bushes, he is taking action after failing to persuade lawmakers to go along with his plans through the regular process.


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