Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has become the driving philosophical force behind today’s conservative wing of the GOP. While he has not been in Congress long (Lee took office in 2011), he has spent much time and energy considering the philosophical underpinnings of why we conservatives believe the things that we do.
One of the biggest dilemmas facing our nation today has to do with the sad collapse of many of our dearly held constitutional principles. Every day we hear of new attacks on the Bill of Rights, whether it’s another thinly veiled attempt at gun control, or restrictions on our religious liberty in the public arena, or even liberal arguments to limit free speech. The Constitutional values at the core of our nation are in danger, and it’s up to conservatives to defend them.
Another example of how our nation has strayed from the Constitution can be found in the overreaching efforts of President Obama through executive action. The President has been largely unable to “lead” in Washington, D.C., so he finds himself “forced” to rule by decree in an effort to accomplish his liberal, socialist agenda. Once upon a time other liberal members of his party may have stood to decry his tactics, but today these spineless leeches instead stay silent because in their minds “the ends justify the means.”
Which is where Lee and his conservative colleagues come in, hopefully, to stop the madness. They’ve recently begun a movement that they hope will see power restored to Congress and the strength of the Presidency greatly diminished.
It’s called the “Article 1 Project,” and the idea is to restore power to Congress while re-tying the hands of the Executive (President), as our Founders originally intended.
Even the New York Times seems interested in what Lee and his fellow conservatives are undertaking.
“Lawmakers’ actually accepting responsibility for the weakened state of Congress represents a new phase in the struggle over executive authority. But Mr. Lee and his allies in a nascent conservative effort to reset the balance of power acknowledge that Congress has forsaken its authority partly to dodge tough decisions and make it easier for lawmakers to be re-elected. By not exerting itself on difficult issues, Congress created a vacuum that the executive branch naturally filled.”
Executive overreach is an enormous problem — but it’s a problem largely of Congress’s own making.
Today, the vast majority of federal “laws” — upwards of 95 percent — are not passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president; they are imposed unilaterally by unelected Executive Branch bureaucrats.
At the same time, Congress’s budget process has almost entirely broken down. Most federal spending has been put on auto-pilot, authorized without a vote. Meanwhile, fiscal oversight, deliberation, and reform are a bipartisan charade.
This upending of our constitutional order has led not only to bad policy, but to deep public distrust in our governing institutions.
This dysfunction is a large and growing problem for the American republic. And for conservatives, it represents something like a crisis, for two reasons. First, conservatives believe in constitutionalism and the rule of law as such — as bulwarks of freedom and justice in our society.
And second, the transfer of lawmaking power from Congress to the Executive Branch tilts the policy playing field, rigging the lawmaking process to benefit the wealthy and well-connected at everyone else’s expense.
When elected representatives in Congress tie their own hands and empower unelected bureaucrats to make the laws, it thwarts the kinds of policies that conservatives tend to advocate — policies that limit the size and scope of government and protect the equal rights and opportunity of all Americans.
It’s no wonder Congress’s job approval ratings are at historic lows. In many ways we’re not even doing our job, and the nation is paying the price. But there’s good news: what a weak Congress has broken a strong Congress can fix.
That is why we are launching the Article I Project.
The purpose of the Project is to develop, advance, and ultimately enact an agenda of structural reforms to strengthen Congress by reclaiming its constitutional legislative powers that today are being improperly exercised by the Executive Branch.
Specifically, A1P will focus on restoring congressional power in four key areas at the core of Washington’s broken status quo: 1. Reclaiming Congress’s power of the purse; 2. Reforming legislative “cliffs”; 3. Reasserting congressional authority over regulations and regulators; 4. And finally, curbing executive discretion.
My colleagues will talk in more detail about these four pillars of the Article I Project.
As they’ll explain, what A1P seeks is not so much to change Congress as to revive it, to make it once again live up to its founding purpose: to be the driving force in federal policymaking — not for the sake of politicians’ ambitions, but to protect and empower the American people.
Our goal here is simply to make Congress once again responsible — both in the sense of doing our constitutional duty, and doing it transparently so that our fellow countrymen can hold us accountable for the choices we make. All that stands between today’s broken status quo and a government of, by, and for the people is the will of the Congress to finally step up and do its job.
For decades, Congress has done nearly everything in its power to avoid doing its job, to surrender its constitutional powers to the Executive Branch. And the country and the American people have suffered as a result.
But with these nine lawmakers, their collective and innovative ideas for reform, and their endless supply of political courage, we have an opportunity to change that.
Contact your representatives and demand that they support, encourage and participate in the Article 1 Project. Force Congress to be Great Again.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com