Taxpayers for Congress applauds the House Committee on Rules for holding the hearing “Examining Ways to Reassert Congress’ Constitutional Authority.” This hearing is long overdue.
While we support an examination of issues like the War Powers Resolution and the National Emergencies Act, we suggest committee members also air additional issues where Congressional authority is being undermined:
The Antideficiency Act: This is one of the federal statutes outlining Congressional primacy in the federal appropriations process. In a nutshell, the Antideficiency Act bars federal employees to spend money in advance or excess of a Congressional appropriation. See sleight of hand funding of the border wall for numerous violations of this statute.
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974: The impoundment control portion of this comprehensive legislation is the statutory flipside of the Antideficiency Act. This bill states the president may not withhold funds appropriated by Congress without officially notifying the legislative branch. It was this statute that was violated by the President’s decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine.
The president’s trade war and trade bailouts: One of Congress’ constitutional duties is “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…” yet the president is continually setting, and resetting, the nation’s trade policy by tweet. Congress should begin to reassert its role in guiding trade policy by reining in the abuse of using the “national security” threat of such items as steel from Canada and automobiles from Europe as a cover for parochial and protectionist trade policies. While they’re at it, Congress should insist the administration stop using the Treasury to buy itself good will amongst farmers and ranchers while undermining Congressional input into the farm safety net.
We offer these topics for consideration by members of the House Committee on Rules. This is a timely hearing and we hope it’s just the beginning of a robust debate of the proper Constitutional roles of the Article I and Article II branches of our government.