The United States has been in a perpetual state of emergency for nearly 40 years. A specific state of emergency initially enacted after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001 has been in place for 17 years. President Trump has ordered the extension of that act, known as Proclamation 7463.
The extension reads in part, “The threat of terrorism that resulted in the declaration of a national emergency on September 14, 2001, continues. The authorities that have been invoked under that declaration of a national emergency continue to be critical to the ability of the Armed Forces of the United States to perform essential missions in the United States and around the world to address the continuing threat of terrorism.”
An interesting caveat is that Congress is supposed to review emergency acts every 6 months, but apparently has never done so.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Original Proclamation Gave President George W. Bush Expanded Powers in the Fight Against Terrorism
Proclamation 7463 was announced in the Federal Register on September 14, 2001. The Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks was initially meant to be a temporary solution in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It granted the president increased power to mobilize troops, hire additional military officers and call up the National Guard.
The original proclamation reads in part:
A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby declare that the national emergency has existed since September 11, 2001, and, pursuant to the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), I intend to utilize the following statutes: sections 123, 123a, 527, 2201(c), 12006, and 12302 of title 10, United States Code, and sections 331, 359, and 367 of title 14, United States Code.
Congress is Supposed to Review National Emergencies Every Six Months
The National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976. The goal was to put a limit on the president’s ability to extend a national state of emergency by granting review power to Congress.
Here’s how it was laid out: The state of emergency automatically expires after one year, unless the president renews it within 90 days of its scheduled termination. The president can cancel it at any time, or Congress can end it by passing a joint resolution.
Under the terms of the National Emergencies Act, the president is supposed to issue a report to Congress. The executive is required to detail “the total expenditures incurred by the United States Government during such six-month period which are directly attributable to the exercise of powers and authorities conferred by such declaration.” But as USA Today reporter Gregory Korte noted in 2017, Congress has apparently never reviewed a state of national emergency.
More Than Two Dozen ‘Emergencies’ Have Remained in Effect for Several Years, Sometimes Decades
President Obama extended multiple states of emergency during his eight years in office, in addition to the Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks. For example in 2009, he renewed a 1995 proclamation that had to do with drug trafficking in Colombia. The reasoning was that the illegal drug trade, and violence that stemmed from it, was a threat to American national security. You can read the proclamation in its entirety above.
An example of an emergency that was allowed to expire was a 2009 act to battle swine flu. The proclamation temporarily suspended certain Medicare and Medicaid regulations to allow doctors to provide more expedient care.
A national emergency concerning Iran has been in effect since 1979. President Jimmy Carter enacted the emergency on the 10th day of the hostage crisis. Every president since him has continued to renew the proclamation. The 2017 notice signed by President Trump stated that “Our relations with Iran have not yet normalized, and the process of implementing the agreements with Iran, dated January 19, 1981, is ongoing.”
During his time in office, President Bill Clinton enacted 16 states of emergency. President George W. Bush declared 14.
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