AP FACT CHECK: Senator makes false national emergency claim
Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, claimed this week that members of Congress are opposing President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration because they dislike the president.
Trump announced the declaration last week to help finance a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that House Democrats are expected to try to block through a resolution Friday.
During a podcast interview with a conservative North Dakota blogger, Cramer described presidential national emergency declarations as routine and said Trump’s proclamation is more controversial simply because “it’s the president.”
Cramer pointed to a national emergency declaration issued under President Barack Obama to further illustrate his point.
A look at his claim, made during a podcast posted Tuesday:
CRAMER: “Barack Obama declared a national emergency to fight swine flu and we didn’t have a single case of it in the United States.”
THE FACTS: Cramer is wrong. More than 1,000 people had died in the U.S. from the flu strain known as H1N1, commonly called the swine flu, by the time Obama declared a national emergency over the outbreak Oct. 23, 2009, according to reporting by The Associated Press.
The first swine flu death in the U.S. was reported in April 2009. By the time of Obama’s declaration, widespread flu activity was reported in 46 states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the flu strain was linked to more than 274,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths in the U.S. between April 2009 and April 2010, according to final figures released in 2011. The 2009 swine flu was particularly devastating for people younger than 65, according to a 2012 CDC report .
The 2009 national emergency allowed the Health and Human Services secretary to activate emergency operational plans, such as moving emergency rooms offsite to keep those infected with the virus away from other emergency room patients. The declaration did receive bipartisan support. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in an ABC television interview a day after the declaration was announced that he supported giving the Obama administration even more help, if necessary.
Obama declared 12 national emergencies during his eight years in office, according to the Brennan Center for Justice . All of them, except for the flu pandemic national emergency, were intended to protect interests in foreign countries including Ukraine, Venezuela, South Sudan and Libya.
In a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday, Cramer reiterated that “swine flu was a national emergency then, the southern border is a national emergency now.”