Senator Rand Paul has teamed up with Democrat Ron Wyden to introduce a new bill that the pair say will return to Congress the authority to declare and oversee emergency powers currently wielded by the President.
The bill, titled the Reforming Emergency Powers to Uphold the Balances and Limitations Inherit in the Constitution (REPUBLIC) Act, would ensure that Congress has to approve declarations of national emergencies within 72 hours, and adds a sunset clause of 90 days.
There are currently 32 national emergencies in place, the most recent being President Trump’s border crisis declaration.
Currently, Congress can only respond to the emergencies after the fact, either expressing approval or not.
Some of the emergencies still in place date back to the 1970s and 80s.
“Congress fails its responsibilities to the American people and the constitution when it leaves the executive virtually unchecked to unlock and exercise emergency powers in perpetuity,” Senator Paul said in a statement.
“The REPUBLIC Act will continue to allow the president to take immediate action in necessary situations but also require expeditious and continual congressional review of declared national emergencies to ensure that the separation of powers is preserved.” the statement notes.
“Presidents have run roughshod over the constitution for far too long because Congress keeps shirking its obligations,” Senator Wyden added in a further statement, noting that “Checks and balances are more than pretty words on a page; they’re a bedrock principle of our democracy.”
A provision in the new legislation also states that the bill will “Repeal the statutory authority empowering a president to unilaterally control communications, such as the internet, cell phone service, and television/radio broadcasts.”
The legislation exempts presidential powers held under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows presidents to respond to foreign adversaries with economic sanctions.
Interestingly, Trump threatened to use those very powers most recently to unilaterally impose tariffs on Mexican imports, which has never been done before under the IEEPA.
You can read the REPUBLIC Act below:
The REPUBLIC Act by on Scribd