“The statute itself doesn’t say what an emergency is. It leaves it up to the president,” said Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government at American University. “That means an unscrupulous president can use it” for ill purposes. It is up to Congress to rein in the president, he said.
The various schemes and talking points that witnesses have revealed also highlight what a president has the authority to do.
Government and legal experts say the bigger question is: Can further limits be put on presidential authority to make sure there are no repeats of 2020 in future administrations?
WHAT LAWS FORM THE BASIS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL POWERS IN QUESTION?
There are two primary ones: the Insurrection Act, first enacted in 1792, and the National Emergencies Act of 1976.
The Insurrection Act is a long-standing presidential power that gives the president wide latitude to use military forces to stop a rebellion or domestic violence. Military forces are normally barred by the Posse Comitatus Act from joining in civilian law enforcement actions.
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