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The role of Congress in regard to the government of the United States

Published in Blog
by admin

Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, of the United States Constitution, each president takes the following oath when accepting the job:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

In the very first section of the Constitution, the Framers granted to Congress the powers of legislation: “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.” Article I, Section 1. What is ambiguous about that? “All legislative powers” belong to Congress, which is to consist of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

President Obama, however, believes that if Congress, meaning both the House and the Senate, does not pass the laws he thinks are desirable, he somehow accedes to the authority to enact legislation. How is that action designed to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution?

His justification is that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will not go along with his desires, and, therefore, he has the right to make laws. The Constitution did not grant the power of legislation to the Senate alone. Both sections of Congress have to concur in what a new law should be. The Constitution did not grant the powers of legislation to the President if he cannot get both sections of Congress to agree upon what the laws should be, and it does not grant one section alone the power to make laws. And when the Congress passes a law, it is not up to the President to decide if he wants to enforce that law as written or whether he can pick and choose what to follow and what to ignore.

Take, for example, the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Congress passed a 2,700 page behemoth of a bill, and the President signed it into law. As implementation of that law was carried out, it soon became evident that many provisions of it were either unworkable or created problems for implementation. Thus, the President decided to stay or delay execution of various portions of that law. He did not ask Congress to modify the law, he simply took it upon himself to change it.

For example, he delayed by one year the requirement that large employers had to comply with the law; he exempted the requirement that labor unions had to comply with the law, and he granted waivers to Congress and its staff. Even when Members of the House of Representatives suggested modifications to Obamacare or passed bills for the Senate to consider regarding modification, the President and the Senate refused to consider those changes. One chamber of Congress may certainly refuse to consider a bill passed by the other chamber, but that does not then grant the President the power to change the law as he might prefer.

Now, the President is threatening to act whenever Congress does not: “I have a pen and a phone, and I am not going to wait.” He may be upset that Congress is not doing his bidding, but that is the way the Constitution was drafted, purposely setting up a system of checks and balances for the control of all three departments of the government. The Framers had just overthrown a king, and they did not want to create another one. We do not need one now.

– Donald Bogard.

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