In an effort to draw a line in the sand against further executive actions by President Barack Obama, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) is preparing to introduce a resolution defining the House of Representative’s understanding of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution’s standard for bringing impeachment proceedings.
“We are laying a red line. This is the Rubicon. They are forewarned: do not cross this line,” Yoho said in an interview.
The bill’s introduction is the most aggressive move toward impeachment by any House Republican. The tactic, while constitutional, has generally been shunned as counterproductive by the GOP even as outrage has grown over President Obama’s use of executive authority.
The resolution, which cites the Federalist Papers in its “findings” section, lists “failing to take care that the laws be faithfully executed through signing statements or systematic policies of non-enforcement” and “substituting executive agreements for treaties” as two of eleven potential high crimes and misdemeanors the House would be declaring “impeachable.”
Other impeachable offenses would include initiating war without congressional authorization, spending funds in defiance of appropriations laws, and refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents of testimony “issued for a legitimate legislative purpose.”
Yoho, whose bill opposing executive amnesty passed the House in December, said he is constantly asked by constituents what he is doing to “stand up and hold this president accountable because he’s trampling on the Constitution.”
The Florida Republican said he consulted with numerous academics and other experts on proposals that could help Congress protect its constitutional authority against presidents that have increasingly encroached on it in recent decades. His sources include Bruce Fein, a civil liberties lawyer who has advocated impeachment for the last several presidents and Judge Andrew Napolitano, a libertarian law professor and Fox News analyst.
Yoho said the argument that “kept coming up” from experts is “it would be hard to impeach a president today because what they’re doing is what presidents before have already doing,” hence the effort to establish parameters going forward for what the House would consider impeachable.
Yoho said he expects the resolution to cause a “firestorm” and anticipates liberal commentators and Democrats will accuse the GOP of racism for discussing impeachment of Obama, the nation’s first black president.
“If people want to play the race card, and they will, that’s their choice. If they want to play the political card – ‘it’s because he’s a Democrat and you don’t like him’ – that’s their choice. My job is to uphold the Constitution and I don’t care who the president is. If it’s the next Republican president doing this, I’ll be just as vocal,” Yoho said.
“This is strictly about the rule of law,” he added.
The final straw for Yoho, he said, was Obama’s executive amnesty in November, in which he unilaterally granted millions of illegal aliens employment authorization documents, an action a federal judge halted in February with an injunction.
Since Obama had repeatedly declared he did not have the authority to unilaterally issue amnesty, but then did it anyway, that was a “blatant, in-your-face ‘I’m above the law and I’m going to do what I want. I’m a dictator, I’m a king’” act, Yoho said.
Despite outcry over Obama’s executive actions, the GOP has generally shied away from discussing impeachment, even on the right.
Last July, Yoho broached the subject in a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers, but some of his colleagues “were hissing at that because they didn’t want to go there,” a GOP lawmaker told Breitbart News at the time.