On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the country’s southern border. The move should alarm Americans, as it has been enacted for the purpose of constructing a border wall—something that the democratically elected Congress refused to provide funding for.
To give some historical context for national emergencies, there have been a total of 58 declared since the National Emergency Act of 1976 went into effect. Prior to Trump’s latest addition, 31 national emergencies were ongoing. Three of these 31 were even made by Trump.
The border emergency—the nation’s 32nd active emergency—has given Trump the ability to allocate money towards repairing and constructing new sections of a border wall. According to the New York Times, the funds granted from the emergency, recent budget agreements and other assets would grant the president around $8 billion. That puts Trump over $2 billion above his initial request of $5.7 billion.
Trump disregarded information provided by his own administration about the illegal activity along the border—which has been indicative of a downward trend since 2016, according to reporting from CNN.
There’s a reason that this latest emergency has received so much attention. Trump’s use of National Emergency Act is a clear abuse of power.
Whose interests is the president representing? To circumvent the decisions of elected officials is to undermine the very purpose of our Congress. The ability to seize billions of dollars for projects that have failed in our government branch dedicated to making such decisions marks a serious oversight in the National Emergency Act.
Perhaps, at one point, it was more believable that a president would not utilize such great power to fund what is essentially a vanity project. However, in today’s political landscape, that assumption can no longer be made.
Moving forward, the president’s powers to make sweeping changes to the American government must be nullified. Failure to act against this sets a precedent that the president may reallocate massive amounts of funding on a whim—without further consent from Congress.