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Manchin Calls for Biden to Declare National Emergency if Border Deal Stalls

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has called on President Joe Biden to declare a national emergency if Congress fails to reach a deal to enhance border enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, citing the escalating crisis.

Congressional Negotiations

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The Senate is currently engaged in negotiations aimed at potentially voting on a border deal within the next week.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Mike Johnson has expressed hesitancy about putting such a deal to a vote unless it aligns more closely with conservative demands to address migration issues and bolster enforcement measures.

Border Crisis in Focus

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Immigration has emerged as one of the key issues leading up to the 2024 presidential election, with polls indicating concerns about President Biden’s handling of the situation.

Former Republican President Donald Trump, a frontrunner for the 2024 race, has vowed to take a tougher stance on immigration.

Manchin’s Stance

Credit: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference Sept. 20, 2022, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Senator Manchin emphasized that should Congress fail to finalize a deal due to political reasons, President Biden should take decisive action.

In his words, “The President has a responsibility and, I think, an obligation that if Congress cannot, because of politics, consummate a deal, then he has to declare a national emergency.”

National Emergency Powers

Credit: KIEV, UKRAINE – Dec 08, 2015: Vice president of USA Joseph Biden during his speech in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Kiev — Photo by palinchak

Declaring a national emergency would grant President Biden expanded powers, allowing him to authorize military construction projects, engage in national defense-related contracts, and deploy troops to coordinate relief efforts—a set of authorities not typically vested in the office.

Historical Precedent

Credit: 12.07.2018. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM. Press conference of Donald Trump, President of United States of America, during NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) SUMMIT 2018 — Photo by gints.ivuskans

Former President Trump resorted to declaring a national emergency in 2019 when Congress could not reach an agreement to fund the construction of the southwest border wall he had proposed.

This declaration led to the allocation of Department of Defense funds for the project.

Democratic Opposition

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Democratic leaders strongly criticized President Trump’s move, with Senate Leader Charles Schumer condemning it as a “lawless act” and an abuse of presidential power.

Shortly after assuming office, President Biden terminated the national emergency declaration.

Changing Border Dynamics

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The situation at the U.S.-Mexico border has undergone significant shifts since President Trump’s tenure, marked by a substantial increase in migrant crossings.

Border Encounters Statistics

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During the four fiscal years coinciding with Trump’s presidency, annual encounters between border officials and migrants, as reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, ranged from approximately 304,000 to nearly 852,000.

Huge Increase in Biden Era

Credit: US President Joe Biden attends an event in the state of Pennsylvania. August 30, 2022, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, USA: US President Joe Biden speaks on security and firearms during an event in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday (30) — Photo by thenews2.com

In contrast, under President Biden’s administration, annual encounters have varied from around 1.73 million to nearly 2.48 million.

Political Calculations

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The likelihood of a successful border deal also hinges on political considerations, as some Republicans are concerned that reaching an agreement could boost President Biden’s standing in the run-up to the 2024 election.

Troy Nehls’ Stance

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Republican Representative Troy Nehls of Texas indicated his reluctance to take actions that might enhance a Democrat’s or President Biden’s approval rating.

Possible Implications

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If House GOP members, led by Speaker Johnson, block progress on a border deal, President Biden declaring a national emergency could underscore the divergence in approaches between the President and a House GOP reluctant to pursue bipartisan measures in an election year.

Additionally, it may offer the security enhancements Senator Manchin has called for.

Security Concerns

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Senator Manchin underscored the importance of border security, expressing alarm at the current state of openness that has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to enter the country. He deemed it a dangerous situation, labeling it a crisis.

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