Brennan Center Urges Lawmakers to Fix National Emergencies Act to Prevent Next Power Grab

February 26, 2019



Contact: Mireya “Mia" Navarro,, 646-925-8760 


After today’s historic House vote to end a manufactured national emergency, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law is providing a roadmap for members of Congress to effectively push back against President Trump’s abuse of power -- and to prevent future abuses.

 “Today’s vote is unprecedented because Trump’s abuse of emergency powers is unprecedented,” said  Elizabeth Goiteinco-director of Brennan’s Liberty and National Security Program. “No other president has tried to use emergency powers as an end-run around Congress in this way.”

President Trump’s emergency declaration highlights critical weaknesses in the National Emergencies Act that Congress can fix, said Goitein, a top expert on presidential emergency powers who is scheduled to testify on the subject Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.  First on any reform agenda, Goitein said, should be to define what an emergency is, shorten the time for states of emergency, and transfer the power to renew states of emergency from the president to Congress.  

“Right now, national emergencies are easy to declare and hard to stop—and they grant access to a dizzying array of powers,” said Goitein. “If Congress doesn’t act to reform the law, Trump or another president could invoke powers far more potent than the ones being used now to try build a wall on the southern border.”

 Goitein also urged members of the Senate--conservatives as well as progressives--to support the bill.

“This is about much more than if a wall will be built. It’s about whether Congress will stand up for itself and for the constitutional separation of powers, or allow the president to seize control of the power of the purse.”    


Related links:


Brennan Center’s Emergency Powers Guide:

Brennan Center’s Emergency Powers Symposium CSPAN video:

Elizabeth Goitein’s article in The Atlantic w/video: