President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build the border wall was “unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said.
Trump on Thursday evening declared a national emergency in the southern border crisis, The Tennessee Star reported. He signed a spending bill lacking the wall funds to avert a second government shutdown.
Alexander is joined in his disapproval by none other than ultra-liberal U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43).
Alexander criticized the president’s action in a press release Friday. He said:
It is unnecessary because significant additional money already has been approved by Congress that he could spend on border security without declaring a national emergency. In fact, the president announced today that he would spend $3 billion of this additional funding to fund construction of the border wall. This $3 billion is in addition to the $22 billion Congress appropriated on Thursday for detention beds, technology, border patrol agents, ports of entry, replacing existing wall and 55 miles of new wall.
It is unwise because if this president can declare a national emergency to build a wall, the next president can declare a national emergency to tear it down; or declare a climate change emergency to close coal plants and build wind turbines; or a health care emergency and force into Medicare the 180 million Americans with health insurance on the job.
Meanwhile, California’s Waters also spoke out against the president’s decision. She called for rallies around the nation to oppose the president’s emergency declaration during an MSNBC interview on Friday. The video is available here.
Waters also said the Democratic-controlled House was considering a resolution of disapproval.
Experts agree that President Trump has the Constitutional authority to declare a national emergency – and the precedent as well.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said, “Senator Alexander seems to have had little concern over previous Presidents invoking their emergency powers to deal with issues of far less immediate and negative impact on our nation’s security than the current crisis at our border. It is disappointing that he has a problem with President Trump while he gave President Obama a complete pass on more questionable examples of overreach, including providing $1.7 billion in cash to the terrorist regime in Iran. I think his personal issues with the President are coloring his opinion more than serious concerns over the Constitution and precedence.”
Breitbart Legal Editor Ken Klukowski wrote a detailed analysis of why President Trump has the Constitutional authority to declare a national emergency and should be able to fight off any legal challenges:
Congressional Democrats have rejected all compromise legislation that would have given them half a loaf, ironically putting the president in a situation where the only way he can keep his most-often-repeated campaign promise is to declare a border emergency, where he does not need to compromise with Democrats on anything.
The National Emergencies Act of 1976 gives every president unconditional authority to declare an emergency on any subject, including a border emergency. Codified at 50 U.S.C. § 1601, this federal statute provides that “the words ‘any national emergency in effect’ means a general declaration of emergency made by the President.”
Contrary to the hyperventilating from partisan Democrats and media pundits pretending to be legal experts, these emergencies are common, and can last decades. Presidents have declared 58 emergencies since 1979, and 31 of those 58 are still in effect today. The first such emergency, which President Jimmy Carter declared in 1979 against Iran-sponsored terrorism, is still in effect 40 years later.
Congress has passed 136 statutory provisions pertaining to presidential emergency powers over the years, delegating significant authority to the president when he declares an emergency. Congress’s research arm notes that in certain types of emergencies, these powers include restricting travel, seizing commodities or property, and regulating businesses.
– – –
Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.