On January 21st, the United States will enter its second month into the longest shutdown of the country, facing a possibility of national emergency.
Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has declared that he would pursue the situation as long as its opponent Democratic Party would not agree to fund the wall that the American leader wants to build along the Mexican border, in order to limit illegal immigration.
However, the budget needed for this project, more than five billion dollars, has sparked an outrage beyond political affiliations and has raised concerns on Trump’s willingness to negotiate.
After numerous unfruitful talks with Nancy Pelosi, who represents the Democrats at the House of Representatives, Donald Trump has tweeted that he could potentially declare a national state of emergency.
What does it mean for the country and the economy? Here is a little summary of what a President can and cannot do according to the U.S Constitution.
What is a President legal authority?
Passed in 1796, the law of National Emergencies Act states that the American President has the right to declare a national state of emergency by himself, but the law does not specify any criteria or condition. Instead, it describes very specific requirements.
First off, the President needs to inform both Congress and the Federal Register that there is going to be a national emergency, which duration is set to be a year.
“Even though the Constitution itself grants the president very little in the way of emergency authority, Congress has ceded broad powers to the president that he can invoke merely by claiming that an emergency exists,” said Gene Healy, a vice president at the Cato Institute to Politicofact.
However, declaring a national state of emergency does not automatically end a government shutdown. Therefore, both could be operating at the same time. “If the budget impasse were broken, then the shutdown would end,” said law professor Toni Massaro to Politicofact.
As the deadline for the shutdown approaches, Donald Trump said he could potentially revise his strategy.
Has Donald Trump changed his mind?
What seemed to be a priority may have to be in put on hold. In a public appearance last Monday, the President of the United States declared that “I’m not looking to call a national emergency. This is so simple, you shouldn’t have to do it”.
However, during his encounter with journalists, the President also said that he had the “absolute legal right” to declare an emergency and hinted that he would blame the Democrat Party for the possible dramatic outcome.
Democrats won’t compromise to build a wall. Trump won’t compromise either. Arguing that the President should simply declare a national emergency if democracy goes against him, so that he can do whatever he wishes… that’s the language of dictators, not of the rule of law.
— Tom Coates (@tomcoates) January 11, 2019
While his strategy seemed to force Democrats to say yes for a wall, it is said in Capitol Hill that Donald Trump’s intention was to push Congress as much as he could in order to pass the national state of emergency, in order for the Democrats to eventually pass the bill to fund the wall.
A strategy that does not seem to have proven its efficiency so far, as CNN reports that a text group of Democrats sent a sarcastic “LOL” when Donald Trump declared Democrats had to make “new efforts”.
Declare a national emergency NOW.
Build a wall NOW.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 11, 2019
Although insiders have started describing the White House’s atmosphere as “critical”, some Republicans have shown support to the President, such as Senator Lindsey Graham.
800,000 workers are still unpaid
In the meantime, federal workers have been working for free for more than a month – including TSA agents, teachers and more.
On Saturday, which was supposed to be their payday, dozens of thousands of workers rallied across the country, from D.C to Los Angeles, while 800,000 government staffers will not be paid.
At the moment, 380,000 employees have decided not to work and stay home, while 420,000 have been requested to come and work, although they have not been paid.
According to the non-profit American Progress, the shutdown is costing $2 billion every two weeks, a number that former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stressed during his speech on Sunday, in front of thousands of workers.