WASHINGTON DC (KXAN) — President Donald Trump would not be the first commander-in-chief to declare a national emergency. Not even close.
Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush declared more than 30 during their six combined terms. Usually, Congress is on board but President Trump may not have that kind of support. Even so, it’s unlikely Congress will stop him, according to University of Texas law professor H.W. Perry.
Congress could pass resolutions that essentially undo whatever actions the president takes under an emergency declaration, but that would also require the president to sign that bill into law that would undo his own executive action. If Mr. Trump were to veto the bill, 2/3 of Congress would have to vote to override the veto.
Aside from the legal and procedural hurdles, there are also politics to consider.
“Republicans are in a difficult political position,” says Perry.
Any formal action from Congress would require lawmakers to declare if they think Mr. Trump is overstepping his authority.
“(Republicans) have really wanted to avoid any kind of declaration of going on the record for voting on this kind of stuff.”
Still, Perry says members of Congress, including Republicans, are wary of giving up power to the executive brand. And Republicans, in particular, are aware that a future Democrat in the White House could use the same tactic to declare an emergency on health care or another issue.
Congress could also challenge the President in court but Perry says that would require a number of time-consuming legal hurdles to be cleared even before the case is heard — like Congress having to prove they even have the legal standing to sue the president on this issue.
According to Perry, a legal challenge to a Trump-declared emergency declaration would most likely come from a private citizen. He used the example of someone who owns land along the U.S.-Mexico border, filing a lawsuit claiming they were somehow harmed by the border wall.