On Jan. 7 of this year, the American Institutions Network posted an AIN Update in response to the president’s initial proposal to declare a national emergency to fund the construction of a wall along America’s southern border. At that time we noted: “The use of a national emergency declaration, as permitted by the National Emergencies Act of 1974, has historically been limited to situations involving acts of war or actual threats to national security. Never has a national emergency been declared in response to Congress’s hesitancy to fund an administration’s priority.”
Should the president, in fact, declare a national emergency, it will be yet another disruption to our governing norms. For many months, our national legislature has specifically chosen not to enact law for the construction of a wall. Indeed, the longest government shutdown in history was sparked by this very dispute. Nevertheless, it appears the president will flout Congress and act unilaterally.
Particularly dispiriting are those in Congress who support this action, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Building the wall without express legislative authorization marks only the latest instance of Congress abdicating its power and failing to exercise its authority within our constitutional system.