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Disapproving Rule Relating to Waiver and Expenditure Authority with Respect to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOWDY. I thank the chairman. Mr. Speaker, some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle wish to change the law, and that's fine. They just need to do it navigating this testy little thing we call the Constitution and respect the separation of powers between the various branches.

Mr. Speaker, I want to read the proposed rule to you in part: HHS has the authority to waive compliance with this work requirement and authorize the State to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specify limitations and verification procedures.

Then the next sentence, Mr. Speaker, is essentially this, and I'll paraphrase it; it's by the HHS Secretary: trust us, trust us that we're going to have the right motives when we weigh what Congress has expressly said to do.

To my lawyer friends on the other side, I would ask you this, why do we have something called substantive due process and procedural due process? I'll tell you why, Mr. Speaker. Because the way things are done matters. For my friends who prefer literature, the end does not justify the means.

We have separation of branches under our system of government. Among my many limitations, Mr. Speaker, is an inability to deign the motives of other people. Their motives may be laudatory. I don't know that. I know this. We have a process in this country which must be followed, and this President has repeatedly said if Congress won't do it, I will do it alone.

Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is, no, sir, you will not. In a democracy you will not do it alone, whether it's the NLRB or EPA or most recently HHS with the health care mandate or now with this.

There has been an erosion of Congress' authority and we have ceded it to the executive branch. And I will say this to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Mr. Speaker, the sun does not always shine on the same people all the time. There will come a time where there will be a Republican chief executive. So I would be careful about ceding this body's responsibility to the executive branch. And when that time comes, when there is a Republican President, I will stand up for the right of Congress to make the laws and not the executive branch, just as I am now.


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