Restoring power of Congress
During President Barack Obama's long tenure, he expanded executive-branch power in a number of admittedly unconstitutional ways.
He lost more Supreme Court cases than any other president since the 1950s. Federal agencies pursuing his agenda constantly overreached.
When he signed Obama-Care into law in 2010, he pushed through cost-sharing reduction payments, aka subsidies, for health insurance. Because the funds weren't allocated or approved through Congress, but through the executive branch, they were illegal from the beginning. President Trump recently ended those payments because of their illegality and called on Congress to manage the issue after months of failed attempts to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
“Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under ObamaCare. In light of this analysis, the government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,” the White House said in a statement.
Democrats predictably criticized the move as heartless and mean-spirited while ignoring the constitutional conflict. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., praised the restoration of constitutional order.
In September, Trump announced he was ending Obama's unconstitutional DACA program and kicked it to Congress, where it belongs. After all, Obama repeatedly had argued it was unconstitutional for him to unilaterally grant de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants brought here as children by their parents. He did it anyway.
“As president, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America,” Trump said. “At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But ... we are a nation of laws. The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws — this is the bedrock of our constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend.”
Democrats and Republicans were outraged, arguing there wasn't enough time this year to get the program through legislatively. Republicans who had criticized Obama for going around Congress to approve DACA criticized Trump for correcting the overreach. This criticism was unwarranted and undeserved. Trump based his argument to end the program on constitutionality, rather than emotion.
Trump is giving Congress back the opportunity to do its job properly, to pass programs or allocate funding legally. Handling big items and cleaning up after nearly a decade of executive-power abuse is precisely the job of Congress. Members should cheer about finally having a role to play after years of being shut out.
Trump is shrinking executive-branch power and placing it back where it belongs — in Congress, where the people are represented. He is restoring constitutional order by rolling back Obama's executive overreach one issue at a time. Conservatives in Congress who believe in the rule of law should be grateful and must step up to the challenge.
Katie Pavlich is news editor of TownHall.com. Her exclusive column appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.