I share these concerns.
Whether it is through his use of unilateral executive actions, failure to enforce existing laws or instructing one of his agencies to assume quasi-legislative powers, the president has shown he has little respect for the written law or the will of the American people.
Time and time again I have spoken out against this gross usurpation of power. And time and time again my Democratic colleagues are quick to rush to the president’s defense.
After all, while my friends on the other side of the aisle may disagree with me on matters of policy, we are still members of the same branch of government. They should realize that the president’s bypassing of Congress will equally marginalize both Republicans and Democrats. I know I would be just as upset if a Republican president sought to act in this sort of authoritarian manner.
The political reality is such that I do not expect much of an outcry from congressional Democrats despite the president’s plan to seemingly relegate them to mere presidential cheerleaders. However, their complicity must not prevent House Republicans from acting to protect our Constitution’s separation of powers.
That is why I was proud to cosponsor the STOP Resolution. The STOP Resolution, short for “Stop This Overreaching Presidency,” directs the House of Representatives to sue the president in D.C. federal court for violating his presidential duties as outlined in the United States Constitution. Once the lawsuit is filed, the court would then have the option to void any executive action that was outside the scope of his vested powers. Because this is a resolution — not a bill to become public law — and it solely governs actions taken by the House of Representatives, it does not need to pass the Senate to go into effect.
I believe this is a credible plan. The Washington Times recently reported the Obama administration has lost two-thirds of the court cases where it has been a party. As long as Senate Majority Leader Reid continues to block our ability to implement more aggressive measures to hold the president accountable, the courts offer our best chance to protect the Constitution.
However, it is not just Democrats who must get on board in helping to stop unlawful actions taken by the president and his administration. Republican leadership in the House must get behind these efforts as well. Unfortunately, at times I believe the actions (or inaction) of some of my Republican colleagues have not matched the strong rhetoric they often use.
For example, last year I co-introduced articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and perjuring himself before the House Judiciary Committee. These are both impeachable offenses and make the attorney general ineligible to serve as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Unfortunately, these articles of impeachment have not been brought to a vote despite the overwhelming evidence Attorney General Holder broke the law. I suspect that there are those in my party who have reservations about pursuing these articles for fear of media backlash and blocked them from receiving proper consideration.
But electoral politics should never trump doing what is right. When members of the president’s cabinet break the law, there can be no room for compromise. They must be held responsible regardless of perceived political consequences.
My hope is that the House leadership will quickly bring the STOP resolution to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. While it may not solve all of our problems, it is an important first step and will have an immediate effect.
We must do everything in our power to preserve the integrity of our constitutional separation of powers. Failing to do so will set a precedent that will have long-term repercussions and upset the very principles this country was founded upon. America is not a dictatorship. Generations of brave men and women have fought and died to maintain the freest nation in the world. Now it is our turn. If we do not stop this president’s encroachment of the people’s power, then who will?
(About the writer: U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tennessee, represents the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Portions of Bradley County are included in DesJarlais’ district. The remainder is included in the 9th Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, also a Republican.)