“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 1.
A small group of congresscritters have realized what many of us have been saying for years — that congress has ceded its powers to the president, the myriad alphabet soup government agencies and the bureaucratic class — and are now undertaking an effort at “congressional rehabilitation.”
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Wednesday announced he’s launched an initiative he’s describing as a “network of House and Senate conservatives working together on a new agenda of government reform” that “focuses on congressional rehabilitation,” based on the original powers vested in Congress by Article I of the Constitution.
Constitutional governance; what a concept.
Joining Lee in the initiative to govern the country the way the Founders intended is Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Representatives Jeb Hensarling and John Ratcliffe of Texas, Mia Love of Utah, Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, Mark Walker of North Carolina, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Gary Palmer of Alabama and Dave Brat of Virginia; Republicans all. But note the significant absence of any in congressional leadership.
In his announcement yesterday, Lee at least hit on one of the main problems plaguing the country:
“Congress has recast itself as the back seat driver in American politics. Today the vast majority of federal laws, upwards of 95 percent, are passed not by the House and Senate and signed by the president but instead they’re imposed unilaterally by unelected executive branch bureaucrats.”
I would add that Congress has also shirked its responsibility in allowing the executive branch to conduct unconstitutional wars (any wars not declared by Congress) and issue unconstitutional executive orders (EOs) and by not employing the power of impeachment against the unlawful executive carrying out said wars and writing said EOs, and against the federal judiciary which has likewise exceeded its constitutional authority and is also writing laws left and right under the guise of “interpreting” them. (Civics quiz: Find the concept of judicial review in the Constitution and show it to me. Hint: It’s not Article III, Section 2.)
Of course, no new “initiative” is necessary. Congress can and should just immediately defund the unconstitutional wars and the EOs and all the unconstitutional government agencies created during the last 100 years.
But that would mean actually governing; something “public servants” are loath to do if it endangers their invites to the big parties and upsets their masters who line their pockets and fund their reelection campaigns.
While a member of Congress in 1792, James Madison — who knew a thing or two about the words written in the Constitution and what they actually meant — said, “It would be absurd to say, first, that Congress may do what they please and then that they may do this or that particular thing. After giving Congress power to raise money, and apply it to all purposes which they may pronounce necessary to the “general welfare”, it would be absurd, to say the least, to supersede a power to raise armies, to provide fleets, etc. In fact, the meaning of the general terms in question must either be sought in the subsequent enumerations which limits and details them, or they convert the Government from one limited as heretofore supposed, to the enumerated powers, into a Government without any limits at all.”
The enumerated powers he’s talking about are few and defined in the Constitution. (Civics lesson: The Constitution is designed to limit what the federal government can do, not limit what the people and the states can do.)
Doubtless, Lee and his group will face significant headwinds if they really begin to threaten the federal leviathan. And this may just be a feint by them to head off any possibility of an Article V convention – an endeavor that has about as much chance of successfully reforming government in any good way as Jim Gilmore has of winning the Republican nomination.
Those inhabiting the District of Criminals will be loathe to relinquish their power.
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