FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 12, 2019
Contact: Matt Hawes (Paul) - 202-224-4343
Keith Chu (Wyden) - 202-224-3789
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Reforming Emergency Powers to Uphold the Balances and Limitations Inherent in the Constitution (REPUBLIC) Act, which will preserve the president’s ability to act immediately in cases of national emergencies but also uphold Congress’ constitutional responsibility to check the executive branch.
Current law provides the presidency with unilateral power to determine when and how it will exercise emergency powers. Although the Founders included the principle of the separation of powers as a central feature of our government, an emergency, such as a military invasion of the United States, can justify the suspension of the constitutional order so that the president can protect the nation immediately and without congressional authorization.
The REPUBLIC Act will continue to allow the president to take immediate action in necessary situations but also require expeditious and continual congressional review of declared national emergencies to ensure that the separation of powers is preserved.
“Congress fails its responsibilities to the American people and the Constitution when it leaves the executive virtually unchecked to unlock and exercise emergency powers in perpetuity. The REPUBLIC Act strengthens the separation of powers by instituting critical reforms, including requiring Congress to specifically approve of a national emergency declaration in a timely fashion instead of being forced to disapprove of an overreach by super majority, as well as preventing a president from taking over the internet and other means of communication. It does all this while preserving the president’s authority to act immediately to defend our nation,” said Senator Paul.
“Presidents have run roughshod over the Constitution for far too long because Congress keeps shirking its obligations. Checks and balances are more than pretty words on a page; they’re a bedrock principle of our Democracy. This legislation would reassert Congress’ role as a co-equal branch of government while preserving a President’s ability to address real emergencies,” said Senator Wyden.
Specifically, the REPUBLIC Act would:
• Permit the president to take emergency action for no more than 72 hours without congressional approval;
◦ Under current law, the burden is on Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval if it finds that a president has misused his authority to declare a national emergency.
◦ By imposing a requirement for approval, the REPUBLIC Act would empower the people’s representatives to combat misuse of presidential emergency powers.
• Establish expedited procedures by which Congress would consider a joint resolution of approval;
• Sunset congressionally approved national emergencies 90 days after the issuance of the presidential declaration, unless renewed;
• Exempt the president’s powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) from the amendments made by this legislation to allow the president to immediately impose and sustain sanctions on our foreign adversaries. By carving out IEEPA, the REPUBLIC Act will not require Congress to vote every 90 days to continue sanctions on North Korea, Iran, transnational crime organizations, etc.;
• Repeal the statutory authority empowering a president to unilaterally control communications, such as the internet, cell phone service, and television/radio broadcasts; and
• Terminate all existing national emergencies that do not specify IEEPA as the source of presidential authority.
You can read the REPUBLIC Act below: