FACT CHECK: Is The US Under 30 Active National Emergencies?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

NOTE: This article first appeared on Jan. 9 and is being reshared in light of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

Gregory Korte, a national correspondent for USA Today, tweeted Sunday that the U.S. is currently under “about 30 different national emergencies.”

Verdict: True

There are 31 national emergencies in the U.S. currently in effect. Fifty-eight have been declared since 1979 and three under President Donald Trump.

Fact Check:

As the White House and Democrats square off over funding for a border wall, Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency at the southern border. The stalemate has led to a partial government shutdown. “I may declare a national emergency dependent on what’s going to happen over the next few days,” Trump said Sunday.

The National Emergencies Act grants the president the power to declare a national emergency and “make use of activated authority on a selective basis, as appropriate for responding to an emergency,” according to the Congressional Research Service. “When declaring a national emergency, the President must indicate, according to Title III, the powers and authorities being activated to respond to the exigency at hand.”

If Trump declares a national emergency, it would be in addition to around 30 other active emergencies, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

The first ever emergency declared under the National Emergencies Act was entitled “Blocking Iranian Government Property,” which went into effect in November 1979 under President Jimmy Carter. It is still in effect as of today.

Trump has previously declared three national emergencies: “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption,” “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election” and “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua.”

President Barack Obama declared 12 national emergencies during his presidency, 10 of which are still in effect. Those national emergencies ranged from the H1N1 flu pandemic to Russian uranium stockpiles to addressing situations in Burundi, Somalia, Yemen and Venezuela.

Experts debate whether or not Trump has the legal authority to use a national emergency in order to build a border wall.

The Brennan Center has identified “136 statutory powers that may become available to the president upon declaration of a national emergency, including two that might offer some legal cover for his wall-building ambitions.”

Noah Feldman for Bloomberg News, however, claimed in an opinion piece that “the U.S. Constitution doesn’t contain any national emergency provision that would allow the president to spend money for purposes not allocated by Congress.”

To terminate a national emergency, Congress can pass, and the president must sign, a joint resolution terminating it. The president can also proclaim it terminated, or it can expire without renewal. Congress has never voted to end a national emergency.

Federal law states that “not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, and not later than the end of each six-month period thereafter that such emergency continues, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated.”

“The average duration of declared emergencies is 9.6 years,” according to the Brennan Center.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter