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Presidential Power Grabs


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Since President George Washington's first executive order in 1789, instructing his cabinet members to make a "clear account" of matters within their departments, presidents have issued executive orders to set uniform standards for managing the executive branch or outline a policy view intended to influence the public policy goals of their Administration.

Yet some presidents have abused the executive order as a vehicle to legislate rather than execute laws. Legislation is solely the responsibility of Congress and no other branch. In the 1952 Supreme Court case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer, the high court found that President Harry Truman's executive order went too far in seizing steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio in an effort to avert a worker's strike during the Korean War. The Supreme Court maintained that the Constitution entrusts Congress, not the president, as the lawmaking power in the federal government and an executive order's authority "must stem from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself."

Since President Obama took office in January 2009 he has issued over 130 executive orders, often seeking to bypass Congress and legislate on such important national issues as immigration, the environment and defense policy. Many of these administration decrees represent an outrageous abuse of power by our Executive Branch.

Perhaps one of the most egregious power grabs by the Obama Administration came just five months ago when the President issued the "National Defense Resources Preparedness" executive order which allows the president to authorize the federal government to take control of key industries including agriculture, transportation, domestic energy, and water supplies in times of war or other national emergencies. President Obama refers to the Defense Production Act of 1950 as the basis for his executive order. However, unlike previous presidents since 1950, President Obama's recent executive order unjustifiably broadens the definition of "national defense," providing the president the ability to control our country's resources during a national crisis and periods of peace. This is simply outrageous and so I am a strong supporter of a resolution that would prevent this abuse of power by the Executive branch.

Two hundred and twenty five years ago our founding fathers laid out their vision for our country. As they carefully crafted our U.S. Constitution they designed a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one branch of our government holds too much power and it specifically charges Congress, not the President, with writing the laws of our nation. As your elected Member of Congress I pledge to support and defend the Constitution and so I will continue working to see that the president does not overreach his authority and that legislating is left to Congress.

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