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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.

The Bren­nan Center 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 Those laws should be repealed, and any future milit­ary oper­a­tions must be specific­ally author­ized by Congress.

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