An Unacceptable Pattern of Overreach

Jun 6, 2014 Issues: Economy, Energy, Homeland Security

The Constitution of the United States established three separate but equal branches of government.  However, for some time the Executive Branch, under administrations of both parties, has been growing beyond its constitutional authority.  While this pattern is nothing new, the Obama Administration has taken overreach to a new level.

In the past week alone we have witnessed at least two serious instances of the administration acting outside of its authority by establishing new policies without the consent of Congress.

The first was the release of five high-ranking terrorists in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who had been held prisoner by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2009.  Many questions remain about Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions leading to his capture, and whether the trade was appropriate.  However, it is clear the administration broke federal law which requires Congress be informed 30 days before any prisoner is transferred from Guantanamo Bay. 

By not informing Congress, the House and Senate were not able to weigh in on a significant national security issue.  The transfer also represented a major shift in America’s long-held policy to not negotiate with terrorists.  The President needs flexibility to act in our national interests as commander-in-chief, but there is no reason Congress could not have been informed and consulted in this case.

In another instance of bypassing Congress, the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants – even though Congress has never passed legislation to regulate carbon emissions.  These new rules are opposed on a bipartisan basis because they will have little environmental value, the reduction rates are unrealistic, and they would be disastrous for our economy.

Power providers in Nebraska have already made investments in renewable energy, such as hydropower, as well as clean coal technology, natural gas, and nuclear without mandates from the federal government.  The EPA’s one-size-fits-all approach will be devastating for manufacturing, agriculture, and consumers by arbitrarily increasing the costs of electricity.  Low- and middle-income Americans who can least afford huge increases in their electric bills will be especially hard hit.  I am committed to preventing these rules from taking effect, and to rein in the EPA.

To stop this and other damaging regulations, I am working on several reform initiatives including the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, to limit the administration’s ability to act outside its authority.  I also invite all Third District residents to participate in my Regulation Rewind program to help identify and overturn the burdensome overreaches of the federal government into your life and livelihood.  Learn more about Regulation Rewind on my website at: http://adriansmith.house.gov/RegulationRewind.

Congress was given the power to make policy because its Members are elected to represent the people, and can be held accountable through elections.  Reasonable people can disagree on ideas and specific plans, but by working around Congress, the President undermines the principles of separation of powers, and representative government as described in the Constitution.  We must work to restore the balance of power established by our founders.