FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Imperative to Restore Congressional Powers

Photograph Source: Jeremy Buckingham – CC BY 2.0

You have to give President Trump credit for one thing — he has so abused executive authority that even the most conservative members of Congress are now clamoring to restore our vital constitutionally-established checks and balances.

It would be hard to find a more conservative member of Congress than Utah’s Republican Sen. Mike Lee. This is the guy who convinced Trump to slash the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument so oil, gas, coal, off-road “wreckreationists” and fossil hunters could ravage the canyons and their fragile ruins of the ancient Anasazi cliff-dwellers.

He’s also the guy leading the charge on trashing the Endangered Species Act and opening more federal lands to resource extraction while supporting even more deregulation of extractive industries.

In other words, Lee should be a hand-in-glove fit for the president’s unconscionable desecration of what’s left of the nation’s natural legacy to boost the wobbly economy and Trump’s dimming re-election chances. But apparently even Lee can only countenance so much abuse, so many misuses of presidential power and, in the end, the radical shifting of billions of already appropriated dollars to build Trump’s wall to circumvent the approval which Congress remains unwilling to provide.

As Lee bluntly put it: “If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame. Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back. If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so. The Article One Act will go a long way to restoring the balance of powers in our republic.” According to Lee’s press release, “the bill would automatically end all future emergency declarations made pursuant to the NEA after 30 days unless Congress voted affirmatively to extend the emergency.”

Trump’s abuses of the National Emergencies Act — such as moving troops to the border that would otherwise violate the Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the use federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies — have opened the eyes of those who previously couldn’t imagine such lawlessness and authoritarianism in an American president. No doubt Lee was provided additional impetus when Trump ripped off more than $100 million in already appropriated funds for military bases in Lee’s home state of Utah.

Trump brought this retaliation against executive abuse on himself and fully deserves the congressional blowback. But it’s also fair to say Congress had best decide whether it wants to continue its budget-busting military spending spree if those dollars wind up going elsewhere based on presidential whim with little regard for the Constitution or law. It’s one thing that senators and representatives regularly line up at the military feeding trough — it’s another to have their pork pulled away by an out-of-control president.

Regardless of what happens with Lee’s bill, the imperative to restore constitutional checks and balances could not be more evident. Currently Lee has 14 co-sponsors in the Senate and they’re all Republicans. Given the total lack of regard Trump has shown Congress, the Constitution and the law, it’s long past time for Democrats and Republicans to stand up together and fight back against this blatant abuse of executive power.

Our founding fathers fought the Revolutionary War to free the “colonies” from the heavy hand of King George and the perils of monarchies. It is imperative that we don’t cede that hard-won victory for democracy to the crazed authoritarian now living in the White House.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
Louis Proyect
The Intellectual Development of Karl Marx
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail