GOP Introduces Bill To Curtail Trump’s Ability To Declare A National Emergency

U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House, on March 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Bech, Fla.
Al Drago / Getty Images

Over a dozen Republican senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that would limit the president’s ability to declare a national emergency in the future. According to The Washington Examiner, lawmakers are taking a look at a 1976 law that lets the president use federal funding for national emergencies.

The GOP’s move, which was led by Utah Senator Mike Lee, is a response to the national emergency declaration that Trump made in order to obtain funding for his border wall initiative. It would make it so that Congress would need to approve funding for an emergency declaration after 30 days. If Congress didn’t approve funding, the declaration would end.

“If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame. Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back. If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so,” Lee said, according to The Hill.

The bill is being called the Assuring that Robust, Thorough, and Informed Congressional Leadership is Exercised Over National Emergencies (Article One) Act. It would give Congress more power to block an emergency declaration than it has right now. Currently, Congress needs to be able to pass a veto-proof resolution of disapproval, something that the divided chamber isn’t able to do today.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he supports altering the law.

“We’re looking at some ways to revisit the law. There’s a lot of discomfort with the law…. Was it too broad back in the ’70s when it was passed? So yeah, we’re discussing altering that,” he said.

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Republicans largely support Trump in his efforts to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is a key part of Trump’s 2016 campaign and his presidency. But many have expressed concerns about the way he went about finding the funding for the wall. There has been a lengthy debate among party lawmakers about when it is appropriate to declare a national emergency nd what powers the president should have to do so.

Many worry that Trump’s move could set a precedent for future presidents to use the power to pass any initiative that they can’t get through the normal channels.

Lee is joined by Senators Chuck Grassley, Pat Toomey, Roy Blunt, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Roger Wicker, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, Ron Johnson, Jerry Moran, Lamar Alexander, Rob Portman, Ben Sasse, and Todd Young.