If Congress Wants to Stay Relevant as an Institution, They Should Not Stand Idly By And Let the President Take Their Power Away
During last week's Judiciary hearing addressing the president's ongoing executive overreach, Elizabeth Price Foley, a law professor at Florida International University College of Law warned Congress that it is in danger of becoming “superfluous.”
“Situations like this, these benevolent suspensions as they get more and more frequent and more and more aggressive, they’re eroding our citizens’ respect for the rule of law,” she said. “We are a country of law and not men. It’s going to render Congress superfluous.”
Foley said Congress is not able to tackle meaningful legislation out of fear that Obama would “simply benevolently suspend portions of the law he doesn’t like.”
“If you want to stay relevant as an institution, I would suggest that you not stand idly by and let the president take your power away,” she said.
Jonathan Turley, Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, warned that the expansion of executive power is happening so fast that America has reached a “constitutional tipping point.”
“My view [is] that the president, has in fact, exceeded his authority in a way that is creating a destabilizing influence in a three branch system,” he said. “I want to emphasize, of course, this problem didn’t begin with President Obama, I was critical of his predecessor President Bush as well, but the rate at which executive power has been concentrated in our system is accelerating. And frankly, I am very alarmed by the implications of that aggregation of power.”
“What also alarms me, however, is that the two other branches appear not just simply passive, but inert in the face of this concentration of authority,” Turley said.
Lest we forget, this "stupid health care law" was shoved down the nation's throat only after the president repeatedly lied about it, and after much haggling, back-room deals, and kick-backs - and without a single Republican vote. Yet, as Turley noted, the GOP seems to be stuck in a sort of self-imposed paralysis in reaction to Obama's escalating abuses of power.
Charles C.W. Cooke made some excellent points at the Corner, this morning:
The Democratic party “won,” yes. But they won Obamacare-as-written — an overly broad and overly executive-friendly monstrosity to be sure, but not a carte blanche enabling act that affords the president the unassailable right to control the entire healthcare sector until such time as he is replaced by a Republican. Does the party know this?
That their decision to rush ahead anyway might eventually yield some unpleasant results for those who backed it is unfortunate for them. But it is not an excuse for them to subvert the American settlement.
Indeed, there is only one thing worse for a free country than for it to have got the stage at which the executive branch is rewriting the laws with impunity, and that is for it to have got to the stage at which the executive branch is rewriting the laws with impunity while the media nonchalantly explains that it had to do that or it could have lost the next election.
Thing is, there are supposed to be consequences to political decisions. That’s why we have elections: So that the people who have been entrusted with power might be judged by the electorate. It doesn’t make it better to explain that the government is willfully breaking the rules in order to limit its accountability. It makes it far, far worse.
Joe Biden told Democrats last week, “we should not apologize for a single thing.” And Obama's doing what he can with executive actions to make that possible. The 5-6 million Americans who have already lost their plans are out of luck. Democrats are doing their best to mitigate that damage by calling them all liars.
I checked Speaker Boehner's website and the NRSC for reactions. So far - nothing - not a peep yet on the president's latest abuse of power. The NRCC has a whiny blog post that concludes, "this is what passes for leadership in the Obama administration."
I'm interested in what passes for leadership in the Republican party. What are we doing to stop the president from breaking the law no Republicans voted for - to help Democrats?
Republicans have scheduled a vote on Friday to vote on (HR 4118) that would delay until 2015 the first-year penalty tied to non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) introduced the bill -- called the SIMPLE Fairness Act -- with several co-sponsors on Friday. She said the measure stems from the Obama administration's recent decision to delay for a second time a penalty that businesses of a certain size would have faced under law's employer mandate.
Rep Tom Price has sponsored "the Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP) Resolution" that directs the House to hold President Obama legally responsible for trying to circumvent Congress when it suits his political purposes. STOP has 114 cosponsors.
Do either one of these bills have any chance of passing in the Democrat controlled Senate?
There is something else Republicans can do - but it would take political courage which is in short supply in Washington.
A couple of weeks ago, as I noted here, Congressman Trey Gowdy suggested that it was time for the House to start exercising their power over the purse.
The Constitution gives us power over the purse,” Gowdy explained. “So we have appropriation bills that are going to be coming to the House this spring. We ought to strip money away from this executive branch, because our framers gave us that exclusive right to do so. If one branch overreaches then maybe the other branch ought to stick up for itself.”
He also advocated that Congress appeal to the judicial branch. "We do have standing when it comes to vote nullification, which is what Obamacare is. You can go to the judicial branch and ask them to stop. But most importantly, we can go to your viewers. Your voters — almost 500 representatives are up every two years. Our framers did that on purpose… You can fix executive overreach or legislative under reach by throwing them out.”
When asked why Obama continues to bypass Congress when polls are showing that the public doesn't like it, Gowdy answered, “because so far he has gotten away with it.”
“Last October, we weren’t persuasive enough. People don’t like the Affordable Care Act but they don’t like our tactic of shutting down the government,” he said. “OK. Fine. We got that. We still have appropriation bills that are coming. So what we ought to do is say, Mr. President, you want to run roughshod over the Constitution, we have the power of the purse. We’re not going to fund your pet projects. We’re not going to fund your green energy initiatives. We are not going it fund your vacations.”
Gowdy said, “there are a host of my colleagues that are not just going to sit around and mope and cry because this president overreaches. We’re going to respond and we are going to respond in the appropriations process.”
It's time for Gowdy and his colleagues to act.
(I hear the First Lady is traveling to China later this month...)