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FOX "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript: Executive Power


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WALLACE: Congressman King, the president says that you take these show votes, message votes as he called it instead of actually voting to help people.

REP. STEVE KING, R-IA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, you know, first of all, most of us personally like the president. It's not about mad, it's not about hate, it is about the Constitution. And the president has just simply decided that he can amend the law that has his name on his signature on it, the law says that the employer mandate shall commence and each month after December of 2013. He announced that he was just going to change it, and changed the day unilaterally, when Congress said, Mr. President, please don't do this, but we will pass legislation that actually conforms to your allegation, and he said I'll veto that legislation. So he went so far as to say I'm going to take your constitutional authority away and don't even try to mimic what I'm doing.

WALLACE: All right. The president says that he's just doing his job when he helps people. But let's take a look at what the constitution says. Article I section 1 says all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States. Article II section 3 says the president shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Congressman Jeffries, if you read the Constitution, there's no blank check there that the president can help people the way he wants to.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, D-NY, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, there's no blank check, but that's not what the president has done. This lawsuit is clearly baseless in law or in fact. Under the take care clause of article II of the Constitution as interpreted consistently by Supreme Court Justices including Chief Justice Rehnquist, the president has the clear discretion to administer, implement and enforce the law and as it relates to the Affordable Care Act that's clearly what he's done. He's not amended the law, he's not abolished the law. What he has done is delay implementation of the employer mandate in stages, consistent with what other presidents have done throughout history including most recently President George W. Bush when he delayed penalties connected to Medicare Part D, and delayed the enrollment period in 2006 and then turned around with respect to the small business work opportunity act of 2007.

WALLACE: All right, let me bring in Congressman King. Your response to that.

KING: Well, the president didn't just simply -- didn't just simply do a little touch to this from an administrative standpoint. He simply went in and changed the required implementation date that was written by Democrats, passed by Democrats and signed by our president. And he does not get to make up law out of thin air. He doesn't get to amend it. The Constitution is very clear. Take care that laws are faithfully executed. And if Hakeem really thought that this was right, then why wouldn't the president accept Congress's offer to fix this law and delay the employer mandate? I don't know any reason for that for the president to simply give the back of the hand to Congress. And he stood before Congress at the State of the Union address and he said I will take -- I will enact laws, he said I'm going to do it with my ink pen, his cell phone and ink pen, quote, "compressed into a State of the Union" address and Democrats led a standing ovation to cheer the president ...

WALLACE: All right.

KING: For taking away Article I authority in the United States Constitution.

WALLACE: All right, you know, although the lawsuit is just going to be about ObamaCare, the fact is that the president's executive actions have been about a lot more than that. Let's put them up on the screen. He deferred deportation of half a million people who came here illegally as children. He delayed the employer mandate in ObamaCare. He extended federal rights to same sex couples and has actually been a lot more than that. Congressman Jeffries, if the president wants to change the law, doesn't he just have to go to Congress according to article I because of all the legislative function resides in Congress?

JEFFRIES: Well, every president has the capacity to move forward with executive action and, in fact, this president has been less active in the use of the executive order than President George W. Bush, President Clinton and President Reagan all of whom used executive orders in much greater numbers than President Obama. He has the capacity to take limited steps to improve the lives of the American people consistent with the public policy constraints of the United States Constitution. The only institution in terms of our separation of powers lay out here that is exceeding its authority are House Republicans in moving forward with a lawsuit that clearly has no basis. Has no congressional standing to sue another branch of government. You can't simply run into the federal court system whenever you have a disagreement with the executive branch. No less than authority on conservative issues and ideology than Justice Scalia has repeatedly made that point. And so, it really is time to get back to doing the business of the American people. And stop the squabbling related to what seems to be hatred of the president of the United States coming from different quarters throughout the Congress. We've got a serious job situation that we should address.

WALLACE: Congressman King?

KING: Come on. Those are well practiced talking points. Thank you. Those are well practiced talking points, but they don't really get to the heart of this matter. The president has effectively changed the law of Obamacare. It is the clearest constitutional violation of the separation of powers. I litigate this in Iowa when I brought a case versus against Tom Vilsack several years ago when he thought he could write law from -- from the executive bench. But I take as over two the immigration law, which is a little bit not quite as clear, but it's almost as clear. The president has more memos created for classes of people.

WALLACE: Congressman King, we're getting a little bit -- Congressman King, we are getting a little bit in the weeds. Let me -- let me pick up on the immigration issue. It's a very good example. After the president deferred deportation for about a half a million, the so-called dreamers, there was a demand that he just change all of the immigration laws and last year here's what he had to say.


OBAMA: If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition.


WALLACE: But White House officials now say and they really have been saying this up, that now it looks like the president will take some major executive action over the course of the summer or right after Labor Day and may even consider deferring the deportations of millions of more illegal immigrants. Congressman King, if he does that, if he goes ahead and unilaterally decides to defer deportations of millions of immigrants, what are you going to do about it?

KING: None of us -- none of us want to do the thing that's left for us as an alternative, but if the president has decided that he simply is not going to enforce any immigration law or at least not against anybody except the felons which essentially he has done already, this is a broader group of people. I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution and that includes that "I" word that we don't want to say. And I only say that now on this program, because I want to encourage the president, please don't put America into a constitutional crisis. Please don't do that. There's too much at stake in this country to be decided that you can take over the Constitution and write it at will.

WALLACE: But you're saying that if he were to do that then impeachment would be on the table?

KING: I think then we have to start, sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line otherwise if that's not enough to bring that about then I don't know what would be. We've never seen anything in this country like a president that I'm going to make up all immigration law that I choose and I'm going to drive this thing regardless the resistance of Congress. That's why I pushed so hard to get the DOCA language out into this legislation that we just passed. It says, Mr. President you can't do this. It's unconstitutional, and you know it. We want to stop the funding of....


KING: Of course, DOCA. That's the message on ...

WALLACE: We have got less than a minute left and I want to bring in Congressman Jeffries. You know, back in 2008, some members of your party, Democrats filed bills to impeach George W. Bush for his conduct of the Iraq War. Is this any different than what Democrats did to President Bush?

JEFFRIES: Of course, it's completely different. House Republicans are clearly taking us on a march towards impeachment, and whether ...

WALLACE: But look, did Democrats take -- Excuse me, sir, did Democrats take the House on a march towards impeachment in 2008?

JEFFRIES: Not at all, because then Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly said impeachment is off the table. Congress has several other ...

WALLACE: Basically that's what John Boehner said this week too, sir.

JEFFRIES: John Boehner did not say that. He didn't make an unequivocal statement. And to the extent that John Boehner has taken definitive positions before, such as -- he won't shut down the government, he moved forward and shut down the government for 16 days costing the American people $24 billion in lost economic productivity. So there's no real credibility there. We're not clear who actually is running the House of Representatives. Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas seems to have outside influence. That's why we're concerned. But, Chris, the focus really should be on doing what's right for the American people, dealing with the talking points issue important to the middle class and those who are striving to be part of the middle class.

WALLACE: We are going to have to leave it there. Obviously, a conversation to be continued.

KING: Hakeem wasn't here, but Chairman Conyers held impeachment hearings against George Bush and Dick Cheney. He held those hearings. They took place. He wasn't here -- Hakeem wasn't here to see that.

WALLACE: OK, well, that's true, because he was -- he is the first (INAUDIBLE) congressman. But Congressman Jeffries, Congressman King, thank you both so much. Thanks for joining us today and we'll, of course, stay on top of this story.


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