House Republicans launched an initiative this week they call “Stop Government Abuse” aimed at reining in President Obama’s increasing use of executive action. They have introduced a number of bills (the full list is below) addressing transparency and accountability, regulations, the IRS scandal, and unfunded mandates.
They have also held hearings, including one titled “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws” before the House Judiciary Committee.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at Georgetown University was among those that testified. Turley said that the expansion of executive power has happened so fast that the US is now at a “constitutional tipping point.”
Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, testified that the expansion of executive power is happening so fast that America is at a “constitutional tipping point.”
“My view [is] that the president, has in fact, exceeded his authority in a way that is creating a destabilizing influence in a three branch system,” he said. “I want to emphasize, of course, this problem didn’t begin with President Obama, I was critical of his predecessor President Bush as well, but the rate at which executive power has been concentrated in our system is accelerating. And frankly, I am very alarmed by the implications of that aggregation of power.”
“What also alarms me, however, is that the two other branches appear not just simply passive, but inert in the face of this concentration of authority,” Turley said.
While Turley agrees with many of Obama’s policy positions, he steadfastly opposes the method he goes about enforcing them.
“The fact that I happen to think the president is right on many of these policies does not alter the fact that I believe the means he is doing [it] is wrong, and that this can be a dangerous change in our system,” he said. “And our system is changing in a very fundamental way. And it’s changing without a whimper of regret or opposition.” (Read More)
Later in the day Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), chair of the House Republican Conference briefed bloggers on a conference call along with Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Mark Meadows (R-NC). McMorris Rodgers said that at recent town hall meetings her constituents expressed a fear of the government due to “an administration unilaterally making decisions on how they will implement the rules of the land.” She went on to say that government needs “rigorous oversight.”
Meadows and Walberg, echoed her sentiments. Meadows stressed that it goes beyond Obamacare and used the EPA employee who pretended he was a CIA employee as an example. For 18 years that official was paid his full salary plus bonuses while not showing up for work. The EPA director attended his retirement party, and then continued paying his salary for another 18 months because he said he was still in the CIA. This is just one example of why “People just don’t trust the government anymore,” he said.
They were asked what good these bills will do with Obama as president and Democrats controlling the Senate. Cathy McMorris Rodgers answered that the first step is to get the bills passed in the house. She said they are “taking action on behalf of the people” and they need to build public support for these measures. Their goal is to “restore decision making to the legislative branch.”
I wish them luck. I doubt they’re going to get any help from the main stream media. They may want to rethink their indifference, I’m sure they’d hate to see this precedent in use during a Republican administration.
Here is the list of bills that have been proposed:
H.R. 899 – Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2013 (Foxx / OGR, Budget, Rules, Judiciary)
Enhances transparency, accountability, and awareness of federal mandates.
H.R. 3865 – Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014 (Ways and Means)
Prevents proposed IRS regulations on 501(c)(4) organizations from taking effect.
H.R. 2804 – Package: Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT) Act
H.R. 2804 – ALERT Act (Holding / OGR, Judiciary)
Requires federal agencies to publish more timely information on the status and cost of planned new regulations, preventing regulators from hiding the ball and helping the public to plan better for new requirements.
H.R. 2122 – Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013 (Goodlatte / Judiciary)
Makes permanent and enforceable executive order procedures to produce less burdensome regulations, and applies them to all regulatory agencies. Requires agencies to tailor new regulations to impose the least cost necessary. Promotes openness and transparency in the regulatory process.
H.R. 1493 – Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013 (Collins / Judiciary)
Revises the way legal settlements that require agencies to take regulatory action are reached, ensuring transparency and public input in this process.
H.R. 2542 – Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (Bachus / Judiciary, Small Business)
Requires federal agencies to identify and reduce the costs new regulations would impose on small businesses.
H.R. 1211 – FOIA Act (Issa / OGR)
Directs federal agencies to process FOIA with a presumption of openness, placing the burden on them to justify withholding information. Creates a pilot FOIAonline program, which allows users to submit requests at one location, and for agencies to automatically post responsive records online.
H.R. 1232 – Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (Issa / OGR)
Reforms the procurement management process the Government uses to purchase approximately $80 billion annually in IT products and services.
H.R. 1423 – Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act (Lankford / OGR)
Requires every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card on all of its programs, providing administrative costs and staffing information, expenditures for services, and number of program recipients.
H.R. 3308 – Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2013 (Long / OGR)
Requires executive branch agencies to include a disclaimer to alert the public to any communication (mailers, brochures, TV/radio ads, billboards, emails, etc.) paid for at taxpayer expense.
H.R. 1944 - Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2013 (Sensenbrenner / Judiciary)
Denies some federal economic development funds to states and localities that abuse eminent domain powers by taking private property from one private entity and giving it to another private entity, and provides for causes of action to enforce the law in court.
H.R. 1123 – Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (Goodlatte / Judiciary)
Allows wireless phones to be “unlocked,” thus giving consumers the ability to connect to different wireless communications networks.
H.R. 2530 - Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act (Roskam / Ways & Means)
Requires the IRS to disclose to the taxpayer when the IRS has shared their tax information with another government agency and places a time limit on how long an individual can be subjected to an IRS audit.
H.R. 2531 - Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act (Roskam / Ways & Means)
Prevents the IRS from inquiring about an individual’s religious, political, or social beliefs