HOUSE APPROVES BILL TO STOP PRESIDENT’S POWER GRAB AND RESTORE BALANCE TO SEPARATION OF POWERSMarch 13, 2014
Washington, D.C. – By a vote of 233-181, the House of Representatives today approved the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law (ENFORCE the Law) Act (H.R. 4138), a carefully crafted bill to rein in the growing problem of executive overreach and restore balance to the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.
The ENFORCE the Law Act, introduced by Representatives Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Representative Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), puts a procedure in place to permit the House, or the Senate, to authorize a lawsuit against the Executive Branch for failure to faithfully execute the laws.
The legislation also provides for expedited consideration of any such lawsuit, first through a three-judge panel at the federal district court level and then by providing for direct appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The ENFORCE the Law Act is crucial to ensuring that when a lawsuit is brought against the Administration to enforce our laws, the courts not only grant Congress standing, but also hear the case on an expedited timeline to prevent the President from stalling the litigation until his or her term is up. In addition, to overcome past procedural hurdles, the bill statutorily prevents the courts from using court-created procedural principles as an excuse to avoid making decisions in these important separation of powers cases. A full summary of the bill can be found here.
Congressman Gowdy – chief sponsor of the bill – Chairman Goodlatte, Congressman Issa, and Congressman Gerlach applauded House passage of the ENFORCE the Law Act in the statements below.
Rep. Gowdy: “The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to write the laws and the Executive to enforce them. We don’t pass suggestions. We don’t pass ideas. We pass laws. Regardless of our politics, I hope my colleagues have enough regard for our work to expect those laws would be faithfully executed.
“The ENFORCE the Law Act is necessary. It gives Congress the ability to remedy executive overreach—not just react to it or punish it. Our Framers designed a system of three coequal branches. As Senator, President Obama repeatedly warned of the dangers of the executive branch. This bill would allow us to defend the legislative branch as the Framers and our fellow citizens expect.”
Chairman Goodlatte: “The separation of powers is the most fundamental element in our system of government and is designed to protect individual liberty and the rule of law. The Constitution clearly states that it’s Congress’ role to write our laws and it’s the President’s duty to enforce them. However, President Obama has failed on multiple occasions to enforce laws that he disagrees with for policy reasons and has also stretched his regulatory authority to put in place policies Congress has refused to pass. President Obama routinely legislates through press releases and letters rather than work with Americans’ elected representatives in Congress.
“With an unrestrained Executive Branch that knows no limits, it is ultimately up to the Congress and the courts to check the President’s overreach and restore balance to our system of government. Today’s passage of the ENFORCE the Law Act takes us one step closer to preventing the President from legislating through executive decrees by allowing Congress to challenge executive overreach in the courts and expediting judicial review of those challenges. Preventing executive overreach is not about partisan politics—it is about preserving our system of government and safeguarding our liberties for the generations to come. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to put aside politics and party and carefully consider the dangers of an unchecked Executive Branch.”
Rep. Issa: “President Obama has established a disturbing pattern of cherry picking the laws he wishes to enforce. The House acted decisively today, to bring accountability back to the Oval Office by allowing Congress to authorize lawsuits against the Executive Branch when they fail to uphold our nation’s laws. The Constitution charges the President with the responsibility to faithfully execute all the laws and not just the ones he supports. The Executive Branch has grown so bloated and convoluted that it now comfortably abuses its power knowing that the complexity of its actions and judicial procedure will effectively allow it to circumvent the other two branches of our government. We must restore a working system of checks and balances that ensures the government’s actions are judged on constitutional merits rather than bypassed or delayed based on the political whims of the President and his appointees. This legislation provides the simple expedited procedure that lawmakers and the American people need to hold their federal government accountable.”
Rep. Gerlach: “This legislation is necessary because of a series of unilateral actions the President has taken in recent years to selectively apply, enforce, and even ignore duly-enacted laws passed. Our system of checks and balances was designed to prevent a president – or any one branch of the federal government – from being able to unilaterally declare a law means whatever that individual wants it to mean. That’s why I’m pleased the House acted today to restore and preserve the delicate constitutional balance among the three branches of our federal system and take an important step in restoring the public’s overall confidence in our system of governance.”