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UPDATE: Bush Wage Cuts for Relief Workers may be Legal Error

Friday, September 16, 2005
(This is an update we found re: an earlier post we did on Bush canceling the minimum wage for the brave people who will be working in horrendous conditions to re-build the gulf coast)

Quote without permission in its entirety from the FAS Secrecy Project.

Federation of American Scientists

On September 8, President Bush issued a proclamation suspending the minimum wage requirements for relief workers engaged in Katrina recovery operations.

But in order to do so, he relied upon a statutory authority that has been dormant for thirty years and that appears to be legally inoperative.

"I find that the conditions caused by Hurricane Katrina constitute a 'national emergency' within the meaning of section 3147 of title 40, United States Code," President Bush declared on September 8 as
he removed the Davis Bacon Act wage supports for workers in Louisiana, and portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

But this emergency statute was one of numerous authorities that were rendered dormant by the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and that can only be activated by certain procedural formalities that were absent in this case.

In particular, the President must formally declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and he must specify which standby legal authorities he proposes to activate so as to permit congressional restraint of emergency powers.

Strangely, however, President Bush proceeded as if the National Emergencies Act did not exist.

The September 8 presidential declaration was "an anomaly," according to a new Congressional Research Service assessment, and it did not follow "the historical pattern of declaring a national
emergency to activate the suspension authority."

"The propriety of the President's action in this case may be ultimately determined in the courts," the CRS report stated delicately.

The newly updated CRS report, written by Harold C. Relyea, traces the evolution of emergency powers and includes a tabulation of declared national emergencies from 1976-2005.

See "National Emergency Powers," Congressional Research Service, updated September 15, 2005 (esp. pp. 18-19):"

Secondary source of this quote

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