Monday, February 18, 2019

Every U.S. president since 1976 has declared at least one national emergency

In general, the President may initiate a state of emergency by issuing a declaration (typically via executive order). An existing state of emergency can be terminated by the President himself, or by a joint resolution by Congress. The President can veto such a resolution, however, requiring both houses of Congress to then override the veto by a two-thirds vote.
When President Donald Trump hinted in early 2019 his intention to bypass Congress and secure funding for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by declaring a national emergency — and then followed through on that plan — the subject of “national emergencies” suddenly became a hot topic of public discussion. Since the public tends to associate that term with dire threats such as terrorist attacks, epidemics, or the outbreak of war, many people were surprised to learn that several dozen national emergencies had been declared since the passage of the NEA in 1976 — as reflected in a viral social media post:


The gist of the social media post displayed above is therefore correct, in that every U.S. president since 1976 (excluding Gerald Ford, whose term ended in January 1977) has declared at least one national emergency, although we came up with some slightly different numbers. (Our tally based on the Brennan Center’s list has Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush each declaring one more emergency than stated above, and President Barack Obama declaring one fewer than stated.) In additional, the majority of those emergency declarations remain in effect as of this writing.

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