Broad presidential emergency powers overdue for court challenge, political analyst says

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - After failing to get the budget dollars he wanted for a border wall, President Trump declared a national emergency on the border and pledged to use just under $7 billion in funds that had designated for other uses.

The fight’s just starting. The U.S. House has passed a measure opposing the resolution and the U.S. Senate is expected to do the same next week.

If the Senate opposes the measure, the President could exercise the first veto of his presidency.

And WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown is questioning if any president should have that much power.

“I do think the president has the authority to reprogram and or transfer select federal funds, certain federal funds, particularly defense department funds,” he said.

Some in Congress will oppose the emergency declaration, Brown says,  because it takes away their spending power.

“(Some members) will not like a president being able to reach over and grab money that was appropriated for activity X and just move it over to activity Y,” Brown said.

Brown says the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1977, may be unconstitutional.

“There are no subject matter boundaries,” he said. “A president can invoke this power about any topic and under almost any circumstances at the present time.”

A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found the law gives the president at least 123 statutory powers when he declares a national emergency.

A number of states have also sued to block Trump’s emergency declaration.

Brown said a court fight over the broader emergency powers should happen.

“I’m almost hopeful that he goes through with it for the simple reason that I want there to be a constitutional challenge to the emergency declaration act itself," Brown said.

The U.S. Senate looks poised to vote to oppose to the declaration next week, but President Trump isn’t giving up, tweeting Wednesday:

Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, says he’ll oppose the wall emergency measure if there’s a Senate vote. Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby has indicated support for the president’s declaration of an emergency.

 

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