New Law Could Block Biden From Using Emergency Power

One Republican in each chamber of Congress introduced a bill earlier this week that seeks to prevent President Joe Biden – and any other president – from using his emergency powers to get around checks that could be imposed by Congress.

The bill, called The Real Emergencies Act, was introduced by Senator Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia and Representative August Pfluger from Texas.

If passed, the bill would make clear that the president wouldn’t have the ability to invoke any emergency powers simply because of a perceived crisis with climate change. Right now, the president could use the powers that are permitted under the Public Health Service Act, the Disaster Relief and Emergencies Act, and the National Emergencies Act.

Many liberals in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have said that Biden should use his emergency powers to declare a national climate emergency. That, they believe, would help left wingers further the very progressive climate agenda of the Biden administration.

In commenting on the bill this week, Pfluger said:

“I am proud to join Senator Capito in introducing the Real Emergencies Act, which will prevent the White House from distracting from real emergencies – like skyrocketing inflation and record-high energy costs – by declaring climate change a national emergency. Our legislation ensures that President Biden does not abuse the power of his office to pursue his anti-American energy agenda against the will of the American people.”

Back in January of 2021, Schumer said that declaring a climate emergency would allow Biden to “do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president that wouldn’t have to go through – that he could do without legislation.”

He made those comments at a time when the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act was stalling in Congress after a refusal by moderate Senator Joe Manchin to sign onto many of the provisions in the bill.

Another group that said Biden should invoke his emergency powers because of a climate emergency was the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They said he should use those powers to mobilize “domestic industry to manufacture affordable renewable energy technologies.”

In a document signed in March of 2022, the CPC also said Biden should ban all leasing for fossil fuels on federal lands, while also halting all exports of crude oil. That came just a few months before Manchin finally decided to sign onto the Inflation Reduction Act, once he got concessions he wanted from Schumer.

Biden has been using emergency powers granted him during the COVID-19 pandemic to pass other non-health-related things, such as pausing student loan payments and extending a moratorium on evictions from the federal level. 

The national health emergency was declared over in April of this year, though, removing some of his powers.

Still, the GOP lawmakers who introduced the bill this week want to make sure Biden doesn’t try anything else. As Capito said:

“The Biden administration has repeatedly governed by executive overreach when it comes to energy and environmental regulations, ignoring the law and doing so without congressional approval. The Real Emergencies Act would ensure the president cannot go further by declaring a national emergency, which would grant him more executive authority and grow the size of government all in the name of climate change.”