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By Jane C. Timm

Democrats have gained 40 House seats, as NBC News on Thursday declared TJ Cox the apparent winner in California’s 21 District.

Incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao conceded on Thursday afternoon, following weeks of ballot counting in the tight race. With 100 percent of ballots tallied, Cox had 50.4 percent of the vote; Valadao trailed by 862 votes, according to NBC News.

Cox declared victory on Nov. 28th, when he lead by more than 500 votes.

NBC had called the race for Valadao, but retracted that call as the count tightened after Election Day.

The gain brings House Democrats’ total seats to 235, with Republicans occupying 200 seats.

The California seat was an early target for the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee; Hillary Clinton won the southern-central California district by more than 15 points in 2016.

Democrats also won the House with the largest margin of victory in a midterms election for either party, according to NBC News election data.

The Democrats’ national margin of victory in House contests smashed the previous midterms record of 8.7 million votes in 1974, won just months after President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace amid the Watergate scandal.

This year, Democrats topped Republicans by 9.5 million votes, winning 53.4 percent of votes cast compared to 44.9 percent for the GOP.



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What is a national emergency?

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By Dareh Gregorian

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a “national emergency” to pay for his wall on the southern border.

1. What is it?

Presidents have long had broad discretion to declare national emergencies and can tap into an array of emergency powers when they do.

While a president’s emergency powers aren’t spelled out in the Constitution, legal scholars say the president is entitled to them under the broadly defined “executive power.” Abraham Lincoln used the power to suspend habeas corpus during the Civil War, while Franklin Roosevelt used it order the internment of 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Congress set out to limit the power after Watergate with the National Emergencies Act of 1976. The act scaled back the provisions of federal law that granted emergency authority to the president — then about 470 — and was intended to give lawmakers a way to check presidential power.

2. What are the powers?

An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal law and public policy institute, at New York University’s School of Law identified 136 statutory powers that emergency declarations could give the president, covering everything from the military and land use to public health and agriculture. The president could, for example, take over or shut down radio stations or even “suspend a law that prohibits the testing of chemical and biological weapons on unwitting human subjects,” the analysis says.

In the case of Trump’s border wall, the president is relying on Section 2808 of the Title 10 U.S. Code. It says if the president declares a national emergency “that requires use of the armed forces,” the defense secretary “may undertake military construction projects…not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

3. Can Congress stop it?

Theoretically, but not likely. The National Emergencies Act originally held that Congress could repeal a presidential emergency declaration with a simple majority vote in both houses, but that was later amended because of a 1983 Supreme Court ruling involving separation of powers. As a result, both houses of Congress would have to act with a veto-proof supermajority, according to some experts. That’s highly unlikely, since the current divided Congress has had problems even keeping the government open.

4. Can the courts?

Possibly. Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said on MSNBC’S “The Rachel Maddow Show” that such a measure would “be subject to a court challenge very quickly.”

Trump acknowledged to reporters at the White House on Friday that his declaration will be challenged in the courts and that the case would likely wind up at the Supreme Court, where he predicted victory. But experts have noted the legal process could take a long time, and there’s a likelihood any construction would be put on hold until the court case was concluded.

5. Have other presidents used the power?

Yes, many times. Since the 1976 law was enacted, presidents declared national emergencies 58 times, but never to fund a stalled policy goal. Republicans and Democrats say doing so could lead down a slippery slope.

6. Has Trump?

Yes, three times. He most recently used the National Emergencies Act in November of last year to slap sanctions on high-ranking members of the Nicaraguan government.

7. Has a president ever been blocked?

Yes, but not in decades. President Harry Truman tried to use emergency powers to nationalize the steel industry during the Korean War in 1952 over objections from Congress. Truman maintained that “the president has the power to keep the country from going to hell.” The bid was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found in a 6-3 ruling that Truman had exceeded his authority.

President Truman responds as he is greeted by an estimated 30,000 persons in Cleveland’s Public Square, Oct. 9, 1952.Bettmann Archive file

8. Are other emergencies in effect?

Thirty-one national emergencies are still ongoing, with the longest-running one involving sanctions on Iran in 1979 over the hostage crisis, according to the Brennan Center. The president needs to renew national emergencies annually.

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Farage hits out at EU – ‘Artificial Brussels gang has no future’

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NIGEL Farage has hit out at the European Union as having “no future” and promised to fight to replace the superstate with free nations independent of Brussels.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to court for first time since cancer surgery

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By Pete Williams and Elisha Fieldstadt

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to work in the building Friday after more than a month off the bench following surgery, according to a spokeswoman.

Ginsburg is meeting with the justices for a regular closed-door conference, the court spokeswoman said.

The 85-year-old justice missed her first courtroom argument in 25 years of service on Jan. 7 after undergoing surgery on Dec. 21 to remove a portion of her lung after cancerous nodules were detected.

The cancerous spots were discovered when she sought treatment on Nov. 7 for three ribs that were fractured when she fell in her office.

The court had said after Ginsburg’s surgery that there was no sign of other cancer, no additional treatment was planned and Ginsburg would be working from home.

Ginsburg has made a point of returning to the court promptly after two earlier surgical procedures for cancer in 1999 and 2009.



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