Congress Must Be Ready to Check Trump’s Abuse of Emergency Powers by Vote or in Court

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Americans expect and deserve a President who respects the law and the office he holds. Donald Trump’s outrageous threats to abuse his office and his emergency powers to bypass congress and build a wall on the Mexican border are a transparent effort to get himself out of the government shutdown impasse that he created himself. Moreover, Trump’s proposed wall would do nothing to address the actual humanitarian crisis on the border.

If the president follows through on the threat to declare a state of emergency simply to circumvent the legislative branch and build a wall on the Mexican border, then Congress must act swiftly and decisively to check the abuse utilizing the National Emergencies Act, which was enacted in 1976 as a post-Watergate reform to reassert Congress’ constitutional role in checking and safeguarding against authoritarian abuses of power.

The Republican majorities in the last Congress refused to act to curb a variety of abuses by President Trump and that has only served to further embolden him. If President Trump declares a national emergency in order to build a wall, the new Congress must act immediately, using the checks and balances written into our Constitution to prevent the President’s abuse of power.

If both houses of Congress will not move to stop this blatant abuse of power, then members of congress must turn to the courts to curb this flagrant abuse of presidential emergency powers.