HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – While many are questioning President Trump’s reasoning for declaring a national emergency, it can’t be said that he is the first president to do so.
Actually, it’s not at all uncommon.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, presidents have declared national emergencies 60 times since 1976 when the power was codified. Clinton declared 17, Bush, the younger, 12 times, Obama, 13, and Trump, so far, thrice.
The words “national emergency” seem to create a cloud of fear, but WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown said we should stop and think.
“The first thing people should ask is, ‘is this really a national emergency?’ or is there some other agenda lurking behind this activity?” said Brown.
He said although Trump isn’t the first to do this, circumstances differ.
“What makes this one a little different is it’s a high-profile, controversial issue, and the truth is this president does not enjoy widespread public support for his action,” explained Brown. “And he does not enjoy widespread congressional support for his action.”
The declaration allows Trump to divert money from other funds to the border wall fund, but Brown anticipates an uproar if the president starts moving money around to fund it.
“That’s going to raise the eyebrows of certain judges because the Constitution makes it clear the appropriation function does belong to Congress, not presidents,” he explained.
Jess Brown said he spent a week at the country’s southern border and spoke with border patrol agents.
“Many people that I talk to who have firm opinions about the border have never been to the border, they’ve never talked to the people who live down there,” he continued.
Brown said the agents he talked to said they would prefer a well-lit, dual-fenced, two-lane road option with drone technology over President Trump’s idea of a wall.
He thinks people will also start to challenge the actual emergency declaration act.
“The 1976 act has never been challenged Constitutionally. I think the act itself that authorizes a president currently to do this may be constitutionally suspect, because longstanding in American history is the idea that Congress gives away too much legislative power,” added Brown.
He says the statute doesn’t put any time, budget or subject matter constraints on a president.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already called the president’s emergency declaration “blatantly illegal,” and an “unconstitutional power grab.”
But the law is not easily changed.
“The only way you can overturn it is with a supermajority vote in both chambers of Congress,” explained Brown.
That is, unless President Trump himself signs the bill to overturn it.