Emergency Powers of the President

February 11, 1938

Report Outline
President's Retention of Emergency Powers
Ascendency of Executive Under Roosevelt
Powers Delegated to the President Since 1933
President's Broad Power in War Situations
Special Focus

President's Retention of Emergency Powers

When President Roosevelt took office March 4, 1933, the nation was confronted by an unparalleled economic and fiscal crisis. To enable the federal government to meet that crisis expeditiously and effectively, the Chief Executive was armed with sweeping emergency powers. Today, five years later, the President retains most of the powers then granted, while others have been extended to him in the intervening period. The authority of the presidential office will be further enhanced, moreover, if Congress enacts this year certain legislation now pending.

Many of the emergency powers, granted originally for a limited time and subsequently extended, will expire in 1939. At its session a year hence, therefore, Congress will have to decide whether to allow these powers to lapse or to extend them for an additional period. Failure to make a start toward curtailing the President's emergency powers before the political campaign of 1940 would make it more difficult for the Democratic party to defend itself against the charges of presidential dictatorship which are likely to be levelled against it during that contest. It is already indicated that the Republican party intends to make the most of opportunities for attack along that line.

Republican Attack on Growth of Executive Power

Glenn Frank, chairman of the National Republican Program Committee, which is to meet at Chicago February 28, declared in a radio address at Topeka, Kansas, January 29, that the Republican party “must be more faithfully expressive of the American spirit than the Fascist program of the New Deal with which a deluded liberalism threatens to Hitlerize what was once democratic self-government.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Executive Powers and the Presidency
Feb. 24, 2006  Presidential Power
Nov. 15, 2002  Presidential Power
Feb. 02, 2001  The Bush Presidency
Jun. 20, 1997  Line-Item Veto
Jun. 14, 1996  First Ladies
Oct. 21, 1988  Dangers in Presidential Transitions
Jun. 10, 1988  The Quandary of Being Vice President
Jan. 06, 1984  Presidential Advisory Commissions
Jul. 28, 1978  Presidential Popularity
Feb. 13, 1976  Evaluating Presidential Performance
Dec. 12, 1975  Presidential Protection
Jul. 11, 1973  Presidential Reorganization
Mar. 07, 1973  Presidential Accountability
Sep. 24, 1971  Presidential Diplomacy
Nov. 11, 1970  Vice Presidency
Oct. 02, 1968  Presidential Power
Mar. 14, 1966  War Powers of the President
Nov. 23, 1960  Transfer of Executive Power
Apr. 04, 1956  Vice Presidency
Oct. 15, 1952  Change of Presidents
Jun. 09, 1950  President and Mid-Term Elections
Oct. 20, 1948  Federal Patronage
Mar. 24, 1948  The South and the Presidency
Dec. 05, 1947  Military Leaders and the Presidency
Apr. 16, 1947  Veto Power of the President
Sep. 20, 1945  Succession to the Presidency
Sep. 12, 1940  The War Powers of the President
Feb. 11, 1938  Emergency Powers of the President
Jan. 06, 1938  The Power to Declare War
Dec. 28, 1937  Extension of the Veto Power
Dec. 28, 1936  Limitation of the President's Tenure
Mar. 12, 1935  The President and the Congress
Dec. 16, 1932  The Veto Power of the President
May 28, 1931  Presidential Commissions
Oct. 23, 1928  Presidential Appointments and the Senate
Mar. 21, 1928  Business Conditions in Presidential Years
Jan. 20, 1927  The Monroe Doctrine
Mar. 18, 1925  The President's Power of Appointment
Sep. 10, 1923  The President's Position on Patronage
Economic Crises
Powers and History of the Presidency