In the United States, the term national emergency involves to a situation in which the president exercises their emergency powers. Governors and mayors declare states of emergency in response to disasters (e.g., after hurricanes) or other dangers, authorizing them to secure and mobilize needed resources. The phrase national emergency is often used generally to refer to an urgent crisis (e.g., poverty, violence) that is affecting an entire country regardless of whether an official emergency has been declared or not. Legally, there is no official definition of the term national emergency. Despite being named after it, even the National Emergencies Act of 1976 does not provide a definition of national emergency. Instead, the term has been used generally to refer to a situation where the president is exercising their emergency powers. Since 1976, there have been 58 national emergences declared by US presidents. As of 2020, 31 of them are still ongoing. To give some examples of past national emergencies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jimmy Carter proclaimed a national emergency in 1979 in response to the Iran hostage crisis, Bill Clinton called a national emergency in 1996 after American civilian planes were shot down near Cuba, George W. Bush declared a national emergency in 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Barack Obama declared a national emergency in 2010 in the face of threats posed by Somali pirates, and Donald Trump declared a national emergency in 2017 in reaction to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
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