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We track the national security powers available to the executive branch and work to strengthen legislative and judicial checks.

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Why It Matters

Presidential power has been on the rise for a century. Since 9/11, in particular, the powers of the presidency have grown far beyond what the Constitution prescribes — especially on national security issues. This increase in power, coupled with diminished oversight by Congress and the courts, has enabled a range of abuses. And it has gravely undermined our system of checks and balances.

Brennan Center for Justice fights to rein in the growth of executive power and works to restore a system in which the three branches of government act as checks on each other. Our groundbreaking research on emergency powers brought widespread attention to the need to reform this area of presidential authority — a need that was further underscored by President Trump's declaration of a national emergency to fund a border wall. And we have stepped in to oppose legislation that would delegate even more of Congress’s war-making power to the president.

Solutions

Reform the National Emergencies Act and Other Emergency Powers

The law should be reformed to impose commonsense constraints on the president’s ability to use—and abuse—emergency powers, and to make it easier for Congress to terminate declarations of emergency.

Repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force

Presidents have stretched Congress’s 2001 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force beyond recognition. Those laws should be repealed, and any future military operations must be specifically authorized by Congress.