Bob Goodlatte: Protecting the balance of powers

bob-goodlatte-afp2“What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country.” Jonathan Turley, law professor and supporter of President Obama, made this statement in his testimony before the House Rules Committee just a few days ago on the continued abuse of power by the Obama administration.

Over the past several years, we have seen the Obama administration repeatedly circumvent Congress and ignore the law. This has happened in many policy areas, including energy, immigration, and health care. The President has been unapologetic in announcing that he would use his pen and his phone to act where Congress would not, instead of seeking legislation from America’s elected representatives.

The White House’s continued actions are in direct conflict with the carefully crafted balance of powers found in the United States Constitution, and the House of Representatives is preparing to take action to hold the Administration accountable and stop these abuses. In the coming weeks, the House will vote on a resolution authorizing a lawsuit against President Obama.

The lawsuit presented by the House will focus on the President’s unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. It will center specifically on changes to the health care law’s employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to their employees. The President has delayed this mandate, conveniently for him until after the next federal elections, without bringing it before Congress for a vote.

While I do not support the employer mandate or Obamacare, the fact of the matter is that the President cannot change the law whenever he chooses to do so. The President has legislated without Congress. The Constitution clearly defines the role of each branch of government. Congress legislates. The Executive Branch executes the law. It is not now, nor has it ever been in the history of our system of government, the job of the President to legislate. Giving one branch the power to do both was not the intent of our Founders. The lawsuit brought by the House will argue that the President has clearly exceeded his authority in the case of the employer mandate.

One of the most important functions of the Judiciary is to ensure each branch of government is acting within its constitutional powers. I hope that the courts will rule that the law must be followed.

This lawsuit is about ensuring that the voices of our constituents are heard through the legislative process, instead of being stifled by presidential power grabs. This lawsuit is part of the House’s effort to protect the authority of Congress to legislate. It sets a dangerous precedent whether you are a Republican or Democrat if you allow the President to pick and choose which laws to enforce or rewrite. The request of the House is simple: The President must follow his oath of office by faithfully executing the law.

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