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Under the crisis of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, how much power does the US president have?

“When a person becomes president of the United States, his power is complete”, “Governors know this.” On the evening of March 13, local time, US President Trump said at the White House ’s daily outbreak briefing.

Do governors “know” this? No.

According to CNN reports, Chris Sununu, Governor of the Republican Party of New Hampshire, said, “All executive orders are state executive orders, so the governors of each state should cancel these orders.”

Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of the Democratic Party of Michigan, said, “The government will not restart via Twitter. It should be restarted at the state level.”

New York State Democratic Governor Andrew Como said directly, “The Constitution says that we have no king … We do not have king George Washington, we have President George Washington.”

According to real-time statistics from Johns Hopkins University, as of 15:00, April 14, Beijing time, the number of confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia in the United States has reached 582,594, exceeding the second largest number of confirmed cases in Spain. Cases, more than 3000 cases in Italy, the second most death case. As early as April 11, 50 states across the United States, Washington, DC, and overseas territories announced that they had entered a “catastrophe state”, the first time in American history.

Screenshot of the official website of Johns Hopkins University.

The crisis of the new crown pneumonia epidemic is still on. Why did US President Trump have discords with the governors of the states? Under the crisis, how much power does the US president have?

Trump and reporter quarreled because of presidential power

The incident originated from a tweet posted by Trump earlier on the 13th.

Trump tweeted on the 13th, citing media reports that “some fake news media said that restarting states is the decision of the governors of each state, not the decision of the US president and the federal government.” “Let us make it clear that this is incorrect. In many ways, this is the president ’s decision. ” “Based on this, the federal government and I are working closely with the state governors, and this will continue. With the cooperation of the governors and others, I will make a decision soon.”

According to the US media CNBC report, although the new US crown pneumonia epidemic is still very serious, Trump has repeatedly expressed the hope that the US economy will be restarted as soon as possible. On the 13th, Trump said that the White House will establish the “Opening the Country” economic working group on the 14th, hoping to reopen the United States in the next few weeks. In this regard, some US media reported that whether to reopen each state should be the decision of the governor of each state, not the decision of President Trump.

On the evening of the 13th, at the White House Daily Epidemic Press Conference that day, a reporter asked Trump accordingly how he would force the governors to restart the economy during the epidemic. Trump replied, “When a person becomes the president of the United States, his power is complete. It should be the same.”

CNN reporters then continued to question “the president ’s power is complete” and said, “This is wrong. Who told you that?” Trump responded, “Yes, so do you know what we are going to do? We will write it on paper. But it is unnecessary, because the governors will need us anyway. Because in the end it has to stand with the federal government. “

Screenshot of the “Financial Times” report.

Trump also emphasized again, “The federal government has absolute power. As for whether I will use this power, we will wait and see.” “I tend to let states make decisions, but as long as I want to, I have absolute power to make this decision. Our relationship with states and state governors is very good.”

When asked by CNN reporters again, Trump directly replied “Enough!”

Who has the right to decide to reopen the states of the United States?

Trump’s remarks about “the president has full power” and “the federal government has absolute power” have caused widespread controversy in the United States, and many American media have bluntly stated that this is wrong.

The “Business Insider” magazine conducted a “fact check” of Trump’s remarks. Regarding Trump’s claim that “presidential power is absolute,” the verification result is incorrect according to the US Constitution. Regarding Trump ’s claim that “he will decide whether to restart the states”, the verification believes that this should be decided by the governors of the states—the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution decomposes “police power” to the state governments to address the public health crisis Under the management of public behavior.

Screenshot of the “Business Insider” report.

According to Time magazine reports, in the face of Trump’s “absolute power” remarks, the governors of many states bluntly lifted the blockade and reopened should be the state’s own decision. Although the Trump administration issued national recommendations for “segregation at home” and maintaining social distance, it is the state and local officials who actually issue the mandatory executive order. Some places also announced that those who violated the isolation order will be fined or imprisoned.

Many legal experts also said that Trump’s statement is wrong. William Buzby, a professor of the Georgetown University School of Law and an expert on federalism, told CNBC, “The state and local governments have great security rights in protecting local residents, so I do n’t think the federal government has any way to overthrow the city. Measures taken by the government to protect residents ’public health”, “President Trump basically said it as a” bully pulpit (referred to as the White House) “, but it was basically impossible for him to reverse or Restart “.

Conservative legal expert Josh Blackman told NBC, “I don’t know what the president means by” opening states “.” “The president can indeed make a declaration on certain critical infrastructure and other guidelines, and the states will basically follow. But the president ca n’t order the governor to do anything. I do n’t even think that without congressional appropriation, he can withhold funds to the states. ”

In fact, many states on the east and west coasts of the United States, which account for nearly a quarter of the population, are discussing regional cooperation to safely and effectively lift the “home segregation order” and reopen the states.

Screenshot from the “Time” magazine report.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said on the 13th that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts on the East Coast decided to appoint a public health and economic officer, To form a regional working group, and finally formulate a feasible restart plan.

On the same day, California, Washington, and Oregon on the West Coast announced that they would also form a joint working group to discuss the gradual lifting of restrictions on home segregation. California Governor Gavin Newsom said that the three state governors will cooperate to gradually restore the economy through a “safe, strategic and responsible way”.

“Time” magazine pointed out that Trump can use his “Tianzi No. 1 Forum” authority to pressure or threaten the reopening of the states, but the Constitution has given public health and safety responsibilities to the states and local governments. Cuomo said directly that the governors of the states have issued home segregation orders of varying duration and different scopes under the powers granted by the Constitution, and it is natural for them to decide when to cancel the order themselves.

Under the public health crisis, how much power does the US president have?

Then, under the crisis of the New Coronary Pneumonia epidemic, as President of the United States, how much power does Trump have?

Yuan Zheng, a researcher at the American Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told reporters in the Beijing News that the United States is a federal state, and the federal and state governments are decentralized. At the beginning of the outbreak, the main thing is the response of the state and local governments. The federal government can do very little. The most is to let the CDC provide guidance and suggestions. It is difficult for them to force the state to take any measures.

Yuan Zheng said that in addition to military and diplomatic aspects, the local government mainly makes decisions on domestic affairs, and the federal government cannot intervene. When faced with an epidemic crisis, the federal government has to intervene and must first declare a state of emergency. But to declare a state of emergency, the state of affairs must be severe enough to a certain extent. After the announcement, the federal government can use the National Guard, distribute federal funds to local governments, and require the factory to produce materials such as ventilators and masks. However, when Trump was able to declare a state of emergency across the country, the epidemic was already quite serious, and it was a little late to take some measures at this time.

Trump answered questions from reporters on April 13. / AP video screenshot

US media CNBC pointed out that the reality is that after the outbreak of the New Coronary Pneumonia epidemic, states and localities have taken measures based on the local epidemic situation. For example, the governor of California announced a home isolation order three weeks ago, closing all non-essential premises. However, in North Dakota, until now, the state has only closed schools, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and beauty salons, and has not mandated residents to be isolated at home. This is directly related to the epidemic in the two states. 24,000 cases have been diagnosed in California, while 331 cases have been diagnosed in North Dakota.

Some health experts believe that the state ’s failure to implement blockades simultaneously may cause the epidemic to continue to spread, because people in some tightly blocked areas may try to go to areas that are loosely managed. Some experts even called on the Trump administration to declare a blockade on the country. Trump also hinted that it would force the isolation of New York State and other epidemic-stricken states, but Cuomo called it “a federal government declaration of war.” In the end, Trump did not take similar measures, only let the CDC publish new guidance.

The CDC official website recently released the President ’s new 30-day pneumonia outbreak guidance to the United States, requiring states and local governments to follow the relevant opinions, calling on Americans to wash their hands, maintain social distance, and insist on home isolation.

CDC official website screenshot.

So, what did Trump do as president of the federal government in the face of the epidemic? According to reports, since late January, Trump has issued several executive orders related to the epidemic, ordering the closure of some federal property such as national parks and restricting travel to the United States from other countries.

After the epidemic quickly spread, Trump has agreed to enter a “significant disaster” for all states across the territory, allowing these states to obtain emergency anti-epidemic funds from the federal government. He also signed legislative legislation to invest more than $ 2 trillion in federal aid to help businesses and individuals affected by the epidemic.

Time magazine pointed out that Trump had stressed for several weeks that the state should lead the epidemic response rather than the federal government. He also refused to press the states to take home isolation measures, saying he believed the local government ’s response. But now, in the face of the economic issues he is most concerned about, he changes his attitude, saying he can force states to reopen.

John Yoo, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, believes that Trump may be able to use his daily outbreak news conference and Twitter to influence public opinion and pressure state governors. “But in terms of domestic affairs, the president and the federal government have realities. limits”.

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