Few Americans realize that they currently live under some 30 states of national emergency, the oldest declared by President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis 40 years ago. Actual emergencies come and go but emergency declarations live on.
The primary effect of a national emergency is to shift power from Congress to the president, as President Trump wanted to build his wall. Along with executive orders and domestic policy wars on poverty, crime, drugs and terror, presidents since Lyndon Johnson have been moving power from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.
But politically, it’s a two-edged sword. When presidents seek to do things unilaterally, these actions are easily canceled and replaced by the next president. Perhaps you recall how quickly President Trump undid President Obama’s executive orders.
One day Congress will wake up and notice its primary powers are lost.