Nearly 2 years after national COVID-19 state of emergency declared, resolution introduced to end it

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 4:19 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Nearly two years after it was declared, Senator Roger Marshall has introduced a resolution to end the national COVID-19 state of emergency.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he introduced a resolution to the Senate on Tuesday, Feb. 15, to end the COVID-19 national state of emergency.

In March 2020, former President Donald Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act, which makes robust powers available to a president to deal with crises other than war or natural disasters. He did so in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2021, President Joe Biden extended the national emergency until March 1, 2022.

Under the NEA, Marshall said Congress is required to decide whether the emergency should continue, a process not fully enforced which cedes power to the executive branch.

“With COVID cases and hospitalizations on the decline, 94% of Americans having immunity to COVID, mask mandates falling by the wayside, and 70% of Americans agreeing ‘it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay’ and that ‘we just need to get on with our lives,’ it’s clear we need a new approach to COVID as we learn to live with it. That new approach starts with putting an end to the COVID national state of emergency,” Marshall said after the introduction of the resolution.

According to the junior Senator from Kansas, a provision in the NEA grants Congress termination review of national emergencies, which states after 6 months - and every 6 months thereafter - “each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether the emergency shall be terminated.”

However, Marshall said Congressional interpretation of the law has decided the absence of a resolution introduced by any member shows unanimous consent for the continuation of the emergency.

In failing to meet, debate and vote on an emergency, Marshall said Congress effectively cedes unchecked emergency powers to the president, similar to its failure to enforce War Powers provisions.

According to Marshall, the NEA outlines an expedited parliamentarian procedure for emergency termination resolutions. Once the resulting is introduced and approved, it is referred to the Committee of jurisdiction - most likely the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in this instance.

Then, the committee of referral is required to report one joint resolution along with its recommendation within 15 days of the referral, unless the chamber “shall otherwise determine by the yeas and nays.”

Once reported, Marshall said the terminating resolution “shall become the pending business” of the chamber and a vote on final passage is required within three days. After passage in the first chamber, the termination resolution is transmitted to the other chamber and is subject to the same process.

Currently, Marshall said there are 31 national emergencies in effect which date back to the Carter Administration, which highlights the failure of Congress to consider termination of emergencies declared by the President.

Only six termination resolutions have been submitted in the history of the NEA. Marshall said both the House and Senate have typically chosen to structure consideration of such measures through other parliamentary means - primarily adoption of a special rule reported by the Rules Committee in the House and a unanimous consent agreement in the Senate - instead of relying on statutory procedures.

Marshall said the alternative modes of consideration allow greater flexibility to both chambers and arguably provide greater clarity than those laid out under the NEA.

According to Marshall, the NEA does not assign specific powers but allows the president to call up powers outlined in other statutes. Powers taken by the federal government under a national emergency declaration include:

  • Activation of the Ready Reserve
  • Coast Guard officer retiree activation
  • Coast Guard enlistee retiree activation
  • Coast Guard enlistee extension
  • Deferral of Coast Guard end-strength limitation
  • Extension of customs deadlines
  • Closure of land and ferry crossings along the U.S. northern and southern borders
  • Suspension of student loan payments and interest on certain federal loans

So far, Marshall said Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ken.) have signed on as cosponsors of the resolution.

Copyright 2022 WIBW. All rights reserved.