Today Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) unveiled the National Emergencies Reform Act, a bill to rein in presidential statutory control over emergency powers.
Under current law, the executive office can invoke a national emergency to enact a policy that lawmakers might otherwise reject. Such a declaration can go on without an end in sight: The National Emergencies Act (NEA) currently holds that an “emergency” is only over when the president says it is, or when Congress passes a veto-proof resolution.
Of the 69 national emergencies declared since the NEA’s inception in 1976, 35 are still ongoing. Seven originated with President Donald Trump, 10 with President Barack Obama, 11 with President George W. Bush, and six with President Bill Clinton. The remaining one dates back to the reign of Jimmy Carter.
Amash’s legislation would automatically sunset an emergency declaration after 60 days unless a simple majority of Congress votes to keep it alive. If Congress is unable to meet during that timeframe, it would have 48 hours to approve its continuation once it reconvenes.