Taking a page from the experienced, aging Jerry Brown political playbook, Democrats in Congress and the Obama White House appear to have been trying to destroy the economy and bankrupt the government given their policies the past six years. However, they’ve been stopped in their tracks, thanks to American voters, who in November resoundingly thrashed President Barack Obama, together with the Democrats in Congress, and their destructive policies. By defeating Democrats across the country, voters ushered in a Republican controlled House and Senate.
If only California could be so charmed.
I met with California Congressman Tom McClintock, of California’s 4th District, following completion of the first week of the new Republican majority Congress. McClintock, a prudent, stalwart Conservative, cleared up several falsehoods being repeated in the media about Republican and Democratic leadership, and clarified the Constitutionality of the President’s recent actions. And McClintock smiled when he said that with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid no longer in power, Congress can finally get to work and deliberate.
Congress had quite a first week.
President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly referred to Congress as the “do-nothing Congress,” has ironically threatened to veto everything the new Republican Congress sends him. McClintock said for the past six years, Harry Reid held all Republican bills in the Senate to prevent passage, including many good budget bills which would balance the federal government budget by the time today’s college students are able to retire.
During week-one, the House passed several significant bills. Congressional Republicans sent the Keystone XL oil pipeline project right back to Obama on Friday, despite Obama’s previous veto. Prior to the House passing the bill, Obama threatened again to veto it, despite it being the first bipartisan infrastructure bill of the new Congress. And Monday, in a bipartisan 63-32 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Keystone bill with three more than the 60 required votes.
Yet Obama has issued a total of five veto threats, including two more Monday.
Perhaps the Republican-led Congress will finally have their responsible budgets sent to the President, where he will have to sign or veto.
The Boehner Vote
The media has taken a serious shortcut in explaining why the House voted to reelect Speaker John Boehner. McClintock said he is disappointed in Boehner’s leadership of the House and said he has expressed his concerns on many occasions. “But shifting this decision from the House Republican Conference to the House Floor opens a Pandora’s Box,” McClintock explained. McClintock felt that the votes of a group of disaffected conservative Republicans for candidates other than Boehner were ill-advised. They could have opened up a Pandora’s box where suddenly a new Speaker could have been chosen by 188 Democrats along with, not conservatives, but with the 29 most liberal Republicans.
The proper procedure is to elect a leader in The House Republican Conference, which serves as the organizational forum to elect party leaders at the outset of each new Congress. McClintock said the Conference has met weekly to discuss party policy and important pending legislative issues, and eventually voted to elect Speaker Boehner again.
By adhering to this process, the most conservative House Republicans were able to maintain control and send a loud leadership message to the House Democrats, and liberal Republicans, including Boehner.
The Constitutional Crisis with President Obama
I asked McClintock about President Obama’s unconstitutional executive Order on amnesty. “Since when has congressional disagreement over legislation been license for the President to legislate by himself?” McClintock asked rhetorically. “The constitutional issues involving the President’s executive orders on amnesty far transcend the issue of illegal immigration,” McClintock said. “The President’s action strikes at the very heart of our separation of powers. The Constitution reserves to Congress alone the power to enact and alter law, and charges the President with the responsibility to faithfully execute those laws.”
“If the President can seize legislative power in this manner and then boast to an audience that he, himself has changed the law – then the separation of powers becomes meaningless, and our constitutional Republic will have crossed a very bright line that separates a nation of laws from the unhappy societies where rulers boast the ‘law is in their mouths,’” McClintock added.
McClintock said there are two fundamental checks the Legislature can exercise over the President if he is found to have acted unconstitutionally: Impeachment and the power of the purse.
McClintock said the House took a big first first step last week by passing HR 5759 that declares the President’s action unconstitutional, and null and void. While it was largely a symbolic act since the bill is subject to a Presidential veto, it was a warning to the President; a message Obama has ignored.
McClintock was critical of Speaker Boeher’s move to fully fund the government through next October, rather than just the first couple of months of the year. “One of the fundamental checks held by the Congress is the power of appropriation, because it can close the purse by forbidding the use of federal funds to proceed with this unconstitutional act,” McClintock said. A temporary funding measure into January or February would have protected against government shutdown. “Why in would we want to lock in federal spending through next September that reflects the priorities of the previous Democratic Senate that voters just thoroughly repudiated in November?” McClintock said, indicating that this fight is not over. “Why would we want to so greatly weaken our position to insist on the complete defunding of the President’s unconstitutional act in the next session of Congress just three weeks hence?”
McClintock added that he asked Speaker Boehner for an explanation for this decision, but has not received one to date.
McClintock said the House will take every action available to engage the Supreme Court to resolve the constitutional crisis of Obamacare. As several states have already filed suit, McClintock said the House should join them, and needs to vote as an institution to challenge this act directly, and send a loud message.
I asked what outcome involving the Supreme Court could have. “Since the earliest days of our Republic, the Supreme Court has invalidated legislative acts that conflicted with the Constitution,” McClintock explained. The Supreme Court can invalidate an executive act that strikes at the core of our Constitution. McClintock said that regardless of the varying ideologies of the justices, he doesn’t think any of them will stand for the executive seizes fundamental powers from the legislative branch.
“This is a constitutional abomination,” said McClintock. “We live in a nation of laws and not of men. The principle Constitutional responsibility of the President is to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
McClintock said numerous attempts to keep the government fully funded were sent to the Senate during the last Congress. House Republicans even passed measures that fully funded the government, fully funded Obamacare, but simply delayed the individual mandate for a year. And still Harry Reid refused to send any of these budget bills to the President.
The new Republican Congress means “the greatest deliberative body will begin to deliberate once again,” McClintock explained. President Obama no longer has Harry Reid to run interference for him. “He will have to explain why he will stop reform,” McClintock said. “We won a great deal in the election. We’re already seeing the fruits of that election emerge.”