The national emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, first declared by President Donald Trump in 2020, was set to expire March 1. On Friday, President Joe Biden extended that national emergency. It expires in a year unless he ends it or continues it for a fourth year.
Biden wrote “Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020, beginning March 1, 2020, concerning the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, is to continue in effect beyond March 1, 2022.”
Biden wrote, “There remains a need to continue this national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation. More than 900,000 people in this Nation have perished from the disease, and it is essential to continue to combat and respond to COVID-19 with the full capacity and capability of the Federal Government. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Proclamation 9994 concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As the national emergency continues, the order gives over 130 special powers to the president, including the ability to deploy troops inside the country to tamp down civil unrest. He can freeze bank accounts, and shut down various types of communications during an emergency. It also gives the federal government vast powers involving other aspects of Americans’ lives, such as their health insurance premiums, deadlines for filing for federal relief or benefits, and the ability for the government to waive requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
There are already several national emergencies that on the books, specific to prior national crises, usually involving national security, terrorists, or terrorist states. President Trump declared a national emergency to secure the southern border, for example, after Democrats blocked him in Congress from building a wall on the border with Mexico to stem the millions of non-citizens coming north to America through non-legal means. He was also trying to stop the massive influx of illegal drugs. Democrats in Congress were in an uproar over it, saying he had overstepped the separation of powers in the Constitution.
But Democrats in power have made no similar objection to the extension of Biden’s vast authorities. Nor did they object when he extended the national emergency one year ago.
As the president maintains the national emergency status for the pandemic, most states are easing up the policies and restrictions that have crippled normal life for Americans and have harmed their states’ economies, led to a mental health crisis, a worsening of the opioid epidemic, and that have stunted the education of America’s young.