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Representative Bradley Byrne

Representing the 1st District of Alabama

Checks and Balances Crucial for Good Governance

Mar 14, 2014
Columns

Last week, the House of Representatives focused our efforts on legislation to target executive overreach, fulfilling our constitutional responsibility as a check on the power of the Executive Branch. The Founding Fathers constructed our government in three branches, giving each the duty and the authority to provide checks on the other, so that no one branch could become too powerful. As a Member of Congress, I know the Legislative Branch cannot be passive in the face of an executive who is seeking to use executive orders to accomplish administratively what he cannot legislatively.

This issue is far-reaching. President Obama has used his executive powers to influence immigration policy, refusing to deport individuals who have broken the law and are in our country illegally. He has waged a ‘war on coal’ through the Environmental Protection Agency, driving up home energy costs in Southwest Alabama and across the country at the very time when many families are still struggling to make ends meet. Additionally, he has granted exemption after exemption to his healthcare law, which is falling apart at the seams. Just last week, the Administration attempted to sweep a politically motivated exemption under the rug, granting a ‘hardship exemption’ under the individual mandate. But this issue has been building for decades, with Presidents of both parties expanding the scope of the executive at the expense of the Congress and the courts.

The need for action is clear. That’s why I was proud to support two measures this week that will provide a check on the expanding power of the President. I voted in favor of H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE the Law Act, which gives standing to Congress to file suit against the Executive Branch for failure to execute the laws passed by the Legislative Branch. Additionally, I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3973, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, which passed this week. This bill forces the Administration to report to Congress and the American people if they refuse to fully enforce any law.

Congress must remain vigilant to prevent the President from acting outside the boundaries of the Constitution. The Administration cannot continue to disregard the intent of the Founding Fathers, placing political convenience above the law of the land. I will continue to work with my conservative colleagues to make a stand against this misuse of power, placing a forceful check on the President and bringing the federal government back into constitutional balance.