February 23, 2015

Checking Executive Powers

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Congress' Constitutional oversight and authority is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.  More than ever, Congress has a responsibility to this country to ensure that our co-equal branches of government function in a manner consistent with the Constitution. 

For the past six years, the Obama Administration has acted with willful disregard for the American people and repeatedly exceeded the bounds of the law in pursuit of its own far-reaching political agenda.  From flouting immigration law to picking and choosing Obamacare provisions to enforce, the President has selectively ignored his constitutional directive to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  The lines carefully established by the framers of the U.S. Constitution between the branches have become increasingly blurred--now President Obama threatens to abandon these foundational principles with his boastful 'pen and phone' declaration.

Government accountability is a cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant republic.  For this reason, I support measures to ensure any President abides by the constitutional duty to ensure our laws are faithfully executed.  S. 11, the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments (ENFORCE) Act, would authorize Congress to challenge directly the executive branch for failure to properly administer the laws of the land.  Further, the ENFORCE Act would allow for an expedited procedure for the courts to consider such challenges.  The legislation, which is also co-sponsored by 22 fellow Senators, including Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), is a needed step to check the abuse of executive powers.    

As the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports, "Often overlooked, the Declaration of Independence was not only America's official announcement of independence, but also the new nation's first formal endorsement of the principles of the separation of powers."  The clear separation of powers is at the bedrock of our country's formation, and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that this separation is maintained. 

The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power to legislate.  The President can make recommendations to Congress, but must enforce the laws enacted, regardless of whether the President likes the laws.  I encourage Idahoans to share your interest in this issue with your friends and family and continue to contact me with your views as we work to eliminate executive overreach.

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