181 Members of Congress Don’t Think the President Must Enforce the Law
Of all the things that ought to receive widespread bipartisan support, the basic expectation that it is the job of Congress to pass law and the job of the President to enforce it should be near the top of the list. But Trey Gowdy’s ENFORCE the Law Act (H.R. 4138), which grants either House of Congress, or both, standing to bring civil suit against the President or agency heads within the Executive Branch for failure to enforce binding law, passed the House recently 233-181, with all 181 no votes coming from Democrats.
To what, we must wonder, could they have found objectionable? It is indeed the proper role of the Executive Branch to execute laws – it’s even in the name! It is, likewise, perfectly fitting to ask the Judicial Branch to adjudicate dispute between the other two. And it’s well within the power of Congress to establish the proper juridiction and procedures for such.
As Rep. Growdy highlights in the beginning of his speech above regarding the act, President Obama was once deeply concerned about the balance of federal power and the need for the Executive Branch to both enforce the law as well as not operate outside its bounds. He even endorsed the idea of turning to the courts to resolve interbranch disputes. That was important to Senator Obama, but now President Obama is threatening to veto it on the erroneous grounds that it “violates the separation of powers.” In typical Newspeak fashion, the claim is exactly the opposite of the truth. But he can put his pen down, as Harry Reid is likely to exercise his iron grip on the Senate to ensure once again that nothing useful gets done under his watch.
As Rep. Growdy also covered in his speech, process matters. The Founders spent a lot of time and effort on establishing a specific process for government because they understood it to be vitally important to the success of the American experiment. Since that time the Executive Branch has expanded immensely and systematically worked, through Presidencies of both parties – to undermine that process. Their is no rational argument beyond a naked desire for power and to be without accountability for the President to oppose additional oversight of the Executive Branch’s most basic and fundamental responsibility – enforcement of the law – or for other members of his party to stand in way of its passage.