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US National Emergency

Topics Covered:

  1. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.


US National Emergency


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview of US National Emergency, key facts related and comparison with National Emergency in India.


Context: US President Trump has officially declared the US-Mexico border a “national emergency,” which will allow him to circumvent Congress’s constitutional powers to control spending and divert federal funds toward his much-ballyhooed border wall.

  • The president has argued that the emergency declaration is warranted because the migrants “invading” the United States across the Mexico border have caused epidemics of crime and drug use.


What is a national emergency?

In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, which permits the president to pronounce a national emergency when he considers it appropriate. The act offers no specific definition of “emergency” and allows a president to declare one entirely at his or her discretion.

By declaring a national emergency, the president avails himself or herself of dozens of specialized laws. Some of these powers have funds the president otherwise could not access.

Under current law, emergency powers lapse within a year unless the president renews them. A national emergency can be re-declared indefinitely, and, in practice, that is done frequently. There have been 58 pronounced under the National Emergencies Act, of which 31 are still in effect.


What happens once a national emergency is declared?

Even though there aren’t many limits on a president’s ability to declare an emergency, it does not create complete freedom to act. Anyone directly affected by the order can challenge it in court.

Congress can also draft a concurrent resolution to terminate the state of emergency, leading to a somewhat novel act. Ordinarily, congressional resolutions support a president’s declaration of a national emergency.


Sources: Indian Express.