The Statutory Authorization for President Trump's Disaster Relief Memorandum
Added 08-09-20 02:21:02am EST - “42 U.S.C. 5174(e)(2): "The President, in consultation with the Governor of a State, may provide financial assistance" to "an individual or household in the State who is adversely affected by a major disaster" to address "other necessary…” - Reason.com
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Yesterday, I blogged about President Trump's Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019. I'll presume familiarity with the mechanics of the memorandum. This post will consider whether the President has the statutory authority to implement this memorandum.
First, the starting point is 42 U.S.C. 5191(b). This statute authorizes the President to declare a national emergency:
The President may exercise any authority vested in him by section 5192 of this title or section 5193 of this title with respect to an emergency when he determines that an emergency exists for which the primary responsibility for response rests with the United States because the emergency involves a subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises exclusive or preeminent responsibility and authority. In determining whether or not such an emergency exists, the President shall consult the Governor of any affected State, if practicable.
On March 13, 2020, I declared a national emergency recognizing the threat posed by COVID-19. I also determined that same day that the COVID-19 outbreak constituted an emergency, of nationwide scope, pursuant to section 501(b) of the Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. 5191(b)).
Second, 42 U.S.C. 5191(b). references 42 U.S.C. 5193. This provision limits the amount of federal assistance to 75% of the eligible costs.
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