Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution is crystal clear: Congress has the sole power to legislate. Neither is there doubt about the duty of the president enforce the law. Article II, Section 3, requires that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” — Congressman Raul Labrador
Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) is a strong Constitutional conservative from the Gem State, and he has some news for President Obama. Congressional conservatives will not stand by and watch the President run roughshod over his constitutional authority. Our Founders established a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person or group could ever become powerful enough to rule tyrannically over the people, and Congress must act to restore the proper balance in Washington, D.C. To that end, Labrador and other conservatives in Congress have established a task force designed to reestablish the constitutional boundaries between the job of the Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to create the bipartisan Task Force on Executive Overreach.
Our job is to examine how over the past century Congress has regularly ceded power to the executive branch, eroding its own constitutional authority.
The Constitution is clear: Congress has legislative power and the president is to execute the laws passed by Congress.
It was no accident that the Founders began the Constitution, in Article I, Section 1, with a crystal clear statement enumerating the power of the people’s representatives to make law, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
Neither was there any confusion about the role of the president as an executive responsible for enforcing the laws passed by Congress. Article II, Section 3, requires that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
But a long string of presidents have sought to extend power not only in the enforcement of laws but in the legislative process. While presidents will always have a legislative agenda, there has been a lack of respect for the will of Congress in making law.
This usurpation of power came during both Democratic and Republican Administrations. President George W. Bush used “signing statements” to assert his right to ignore parts of laws passed by Congress, including the USA Patriot Act, whistle-blower protections and restrictions on the use of military force.
President Obama employed executive actions to push through a series of changes and limitations to immigration enforcement without congressional approval or action. In doing so, he expressed his disappointment in Congress and his desire to make substantive changes to immigration law on his own – an argument with no foundation in the Constitution. Immigration enforcement has been greatly diluted by the Administration’s refusal to faithfully execute the law.
As a member of the task force, I will help study the expansion of executive branch power and determine how best to employ congressional oversight to ensure that the president abides by the Constitution.
On Wednesday I told the Judiciary Committee that when I first ran for Congress in 2010, it was in part because Republicans had failed to adequately resist executive overreach under a Republican president. I reminded my Democratic friends that they mustn’t hand over power to a Democratic president because they happen to agree with the policy behind his unilateral actions.
My hope is that this task force will put partisanship aside and come together to stand up for the separation of powers. Congress has a crucial duty and a solemn responsibility to restore constitutional principles. The task force is a good step forward.
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