Home Bob Goodlatte: Action in Congress on executive overreach

Bob Goodlatte: Action in Congress on executive overreach


bob-goodlatte-afp2Think back to civics class – one of the first lessons you probably learned was about the three branches of the United States government.  The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches were created as three co-equal branches of our government under the belief that any one branch should not gain too much power.  However, it would seem that some of these lessons have been forgotten by this Administration.

Our Constitution is clear: Congress writes our laws, the Judiciary interprets them, and the President enforces them.  But for the past five years, President Obama repeatedly has waived, amended, or ignored our laws and has bypassed the Congress, issuing executive decrees from the Oval Office rather than working with Americans’ elected representatives in Congress.

The issue of overreach by the Executive Branch is certainly not a new one and President Obama is not the first to stretch the presidential powers beyond constitutional limits; however, executive overreach has accelerated at an alarming rate under this Administration.  For example, we have witnessed him systematically dismantle our immigration laws and rewrite his signature healthcare law even though he does not have the authority to do so.  This pattern of executive overreach undermines the rule of law and threatens the individual liberty that our system of separated powers is designed to protect.

In response to these actions, the House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, has held two hearings to further examine this issue and consider possible legislative approaches.  Just a few days ago, the Committee approved three bills that will help rein in this growing problem.  One of the bills was the ENFORCE the Law Act (H.R. 4138), which I joined Representatives Trey Gowdy and Darrell Issa in introducing.

This legislation would allow the House of Representatives or the Senate to challenge executive overreach in the courts by filing a lawsuit against the Executive Branch for failure to faithfully execute the laws.  It would also speed up consideration of those challenges, first through a three-judge panel at the federal district court level and then by providing for direct appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  It is ultimately up to the Congress and the courts to check the President’s overreach and restore balance to our system of government.

The issue of executive overreach not only has an impact on Americans’ confidence and trust in the federal government, but uncertainty about the enforcement of our laws and the constant rewrites to the health care law also have a negative impact on job creators working to grow the economy.

President Obama may have his pen and his phone, but we have the Constitution and we must abide by it.  We must restore balance to the separation of powers in our Constitution.  I look forward to the House of Representatives taking action on these bills soon.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in Congress.



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