The fight over the U.S.-Mexico border wall, it seems, is far from over. President Trump said Thursday night that he would sign a Congressional budget proposal allocating approximately US$1.4 billion for 55 miles of border fence construction, but that he would also declare a national emergency to allocate additional funds to his signature project.
There have been 58 national emergencies declared in the U.S. since the National Emergencies Act went into effect in 1976. As listed in the Federal Register,
31 remain standing to this day, meaning they must be renewed by the sitting president once a year. Most of the declarations currently active don’t concern national crises but deal with international emergencies. While President Trump signed a national emergency declaration on Nicaragua in 2018, active declarations on Burundi, Ukraine or Venezuela, among others, date back to the Obama era, while G.W. Bush signed still-active declarations on the Congo, Lebanon and Belarus.
Declaring a national emergency gives a U.S. president special powers, like suspending certain laws, authorizing military projects single-handedly and re-allocating defense funds. Out of the 136 emergency powers, only 13 require a sign-off from Congress.