Trump Just Declared a Fake Emergency to Get His Way

UPDATE: The House of Representatives voted to terminate the fake emergency by a vote of 245-182. You can see how your Representative voted here.

The state of play

We already know Donald Trump is a wannabe authoritarian who praises dictators and routinely makes us less safe. In fact, we’re tracking the #TrumpThreatLevel here.

We also know that Trump signed a deal from Congress that increased boots, beds and some “barrier” funding. 

But that wasn’t enough for him. In addition, Trump just declared a fake national emergency to get his way on his unnecessary and xenophobic border wall. 

Predictably, because the American people have shut down his bad ideas, Trump the would-be tyrant is now going around Congress, going around the will of the people, and abusing the powers of the presidency.

But Congress is pushing back. Rep. Castro (D-TX) introduced a resolution to terminate this fake emergency, and it quickly passed the House. Now, Senators Udall, Collins, Shaheen and Murkowski have introduced it in the Senate and it is looking very likely that, on a bipartisan basis, Congress will vote to end Trump’s illegal power grab.

Here's what you need to know.

What exactly did Trump do?

Congress has passed a large number of “emergency power” statutes, that only activate when the President declares a national emergency. There are two in particular that allow repurposed funding for certain construction projects during a national emergency, that Trump seems to think he can use in this situation. But, of course, there is no national emergency other than the crisis Trump has created himself at the border, and it is far from clear that courts would actually let Trump use these particular powers for this purpose.

Make no mistake: this is an illegal, anti-democratic power grab rooted in racism. There is no emergency. Congress and the people have rejected Trump’s wall. By going around constitutional separations of power and declaring a fake emergency in a desperate attempt to get his way, he is abusing his power, full stop. It is a misuse of authorities that are intended for actual emergencies. It sets dangerous precedent that could further erode our democratic norms and institutions. Worse, it puts the communities most under attack by Trump at even greater risk.

For way too long, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to check presidential power grabs. This must stop. Over and over, presidents have cited “national security” rationale to erode democracy and threaten rights and liberties. Think of the internment of Japanese Americans, post-9/11 torture, and more. We think Trump’s fake emergency declaration is illegal and will be immediately challenged in court. But Congress has a role here too, and must aggressively push back.

To repeat: There is no emergency. Trump's declaration of a fake one was a racist decision and a blow to our democracy, and we expect Congress to fight back.

Call Now: Demand Your Senators Reject Trump's Fake Emergency

Congress has an obligation to check Executive Branch abuses, and there is a clear mechanism for doing it. They need to act to protect our democracy by passing the resolution introduced by Senators Udall, Collins, Murkowski, and Shaheen to terminate the phony emergency. Call your Senators and tell them to support S.J. Res. 10 and reject Trump’s fake emergency.

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Here is what Congress can do now

The National Emergencies Act expressly provides a procedure for Congress to terminate a state of emergency by passing a resolution. Congress has never used this procedure. But they should this time. 

This is the mechanism that Rep. Castro and his colleagues used by passing their resolution. You can use the link at the top of this resource to see if your MoC voted for the resolution. If so, thank them! If not, call and register your disappointment and hold them accountable.

Next, the resolution heads to the Senate. Senators Udall, Collins, Shaheen and Murkowski have introduced S. J. Res. 10, the Senate version of the Castro resolution. This is a “privileged resolution,” which means that Mitch McConnell can not block it from moving on the Senate floor. He could still make the process complicated, however. Here’s generally how it works:

- Now that the House has passed the resolution, it kicks to the Senate where it gets referred to the appropriate committee.

- Then, the committee has 15 calendar days (at a maximum) to do any debate or work on the resolution. Note: they don’t HAVE to do anything or use their 15 days. But, this is the maximum amount of time that the committee can take.

- After the committee’s time is finished, the Senate MUST vote on the resolution within three days after that.

- This is where things could get complicated: McConnell could throw a procedural roadblock, for example by requiring senators to vote on a “motion to table” (i.e., take the resolution off the floor) before moving forward on the resolution itself.

The key point here: senators should vote in support of moving S.J. Res. 10 forward, no matter what form the vote takes. And they should keep voting to move the resolution forward until it passes. Because, one way or the other, they are going to have to take a vote.


Call Your Senators Now

I am horrified that Trump abused his power to declare a fake emergency rooted in hate and am relieved that the House has voted to end it. He is going around Congress and the will of the people to get his way on his racist and unnecessary wall and deportation force. Congress must do everything in its authority to stop this antidemocratic power grab.

Will [senator] commit publicly to supporting the resolution to terminate this false emergency?

I will be closely watching for the senator’s statements and actions on this. Donald Trump is the national security risk and I am looking to [senator] to stop him.

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Submit a Letter to the Editor Now

Letters to the Editor might not seem like the flashiest way to get your member of Congress' attention. But there’s something about a sharp Letter to the Editor in a hometown paper that can really get under the skin of the most powerful lawmaker. As we wrote in the original Indivisible Guide, taking control of the narrative is a critical piece of winning any policy fight - a letter to the editor does just that. 

Use our Letters to the Editor tool, plug in your information, and we'll give you sample text and the ability to submit a letter to your local and regional papers with a click of a button.

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