On February 15, 2019, Donald Trump declared a "national emergency" at the U.S-Mexico border. His goal was to reallocate taxpayer money from other accounts to fund more than 230 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border (a.k.a. his ridiculous "Wall").
THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS....AND STRAIGHT-UP UNCONSTITUTIONAL
There was no national emergency at the border (read more here). Are there issues at the border that we need to address? Certainly. Is it a national emergency? Certainly not. We are a constitutional democracy for crying out loud! The abuse of presidential power has gotten completely out of control (read more here). And this started long before Donald Trump.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law."
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 —
THAT'S THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. It's pretty clear, right? In The Federalist Papers: No. 58, James Madison called this “the power of the purse,” as in "this power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people." What's the deal here? Why is this so hard to understand?
Well, one reason is the National Emergencies Act passed by Congress in 1976, which significantly weakens Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7. This legislation allows the president to essentially declare a national emergency at his or her discretion (see a list of the emergencies pronounced under the National Emergencies Act here).
The National Emergencies Act offers no specific definition of “emergency” — which is a recipe for disaster. Although Congress can reverse an emergency declaration by passing a resolution through both houses, this specific example proves that is not an effective counterbalance. Even if both houses passed a resolution, presidents can simply veto it.
1787 supports legislation that automatically terminates an emergency declaration within 30 days unless Congress votes to extend the order, and that requires strong reporting requirements of the president.