President Barack Obama has made no secret of his plans to force his will on the American public via an onslaught of executive orders before he leaves the White House for good. But a new congressional task force assembled by Republican lawmakers could help undo some of the damage caused by the president’s prolific use of executive fiat.
A resolution approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will assemble what lawmakers have dubbed the Executive Overreach Task Force of 2016 to determine which of Obama’s actions clearly run afoul of constitutional separation of powers.
“The Constitution is clear: It is the role of Congress to make all laws, the judiciary to interpret the laws, and the president to enforce the laws,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement announcing the task force.
The task force will be led by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, a self-proclaimed constitutional “originalist” who hopes lawmakers will find ways for Congress to regain legislative authority that lawmakers have essentially handed over to the White House.
“I’ve long said that the founding fathers envisioned that each branch of government would jealously protect the constitutional authority that’s defined … clearly between Articles One, Two and Three in our Constitution,” King told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday.
King said the task force, which includes members from both parties, will have to grapple with disagreements between “those that believe the Constitution is living and breathing versus those that believe that the text of the Constitution means what it was understood to mean at the time of its ratification.”
While the task force is going to focus most of its attention on the actions of the current administration, lawmakers say they will also examine executive actions of Republican administrations.
And that’s good news, considering the power of the presidency has expanded steadily for the past half century, only picking up pace during the administrations of George W. Bush and Obama. With more presidential power on display than ever before, Americans have simultaneously played witness to congressional deterioration, leaving the body too weak-willed and dysfunctional to quell executive overreach.
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