For decades, Congress has been willing to give its legislative powers to the executive branch in general and the president in particular. Senator Mike Lee writes about why this has happened and what Congress should do to stop this dangerous trend.
He reminds us that President Obama more than 20 times said he didn’t have the authority to rewrite immigration laws, and then did so in 2012 during the height of his reelection campaign. He speculates that a President Kamala Harris could use the broad powers of the National Emergencies Act to declare a national emergency over climate change and justify all sorts of unconstitutional actions.
This is not what the framers intended. The very first clause of the first section of the first article of the Constitution declares: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States.” They did that because this branch of government would be most accountable to the people.
Today so much power is in the hands of government bureaucrats as well as in the hands of the president due to actions by previous presidents and various judicial rulings. Congress also has been too willing to give their constitutional power to the president and the executive branch.
Senator Lee has an agenda of structural reforms to strengthen Congress by restoring legislative powers in a number of key areas. In the past, trying to enact legislation like this would be difficult, if not impossible. But there may be a window, given that Democrats and even never-Trumpers in the Republican Party might be willing to pass some needed legislation.
Of course, this is an election year when traditionally Congress does very little. If nothing happens that would be unfortunate. Too much “legislation” is being written by unelected bureaucrats or by presidential executive orders. We need to return government back to its original foundation.