When President Obama began the year by boasting about his pen and phone, Speaker Boehner said, “I would remind the president he also has a Constitution, and an oath of office that he took where he swore to faithfully execute the laws of our country.” Not too long after that, Boehner addressed the American people’s growing concern about White House overreaching:
“The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now he is running around the country telling everyone he’s going to keep acting on his own. He keeps talking about his phone and his pen. … And he’s feeding more distrust about whether he is committed to the rule of law.”
This week, the House will take action on this front as part of Republicans’ Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, which includes a focus on boosting responsible oversight of the federal government:
- Transparency. Let’s start with H.R. 3973, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act. This one-page bill requires federal officials to report to Congress any time they stop enforcement of a particular law, whether it’s being done for constitutional or policy reasons. “My hope,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), the bill’s author, says, “is that this sunlight will prove to be a disinfectant that will serve to hinder the president from usurping the authority of Congress.”
- Accountability. Next up is H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE the Law Act. This three-page bill permits the House or the Senate to authorize a lawsuit on behalf of the American people against the executive branch for failure to faithfully execute the laws. The bill provides for an expedited review process. This proposal comes from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former federal prosecutor, who says “this bill is necessary; it will give Congress the authority to defend this branch of government as the Framers and our fellow citizens would expect.”
- Certainty. Finally, there’s H.R. 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act. Authored by Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO), this bipartisan bill deals with recent attempts by the federal government to pilfer privately-held water rights. This intrusion is creating all kinds of uncertainty, jeopardizing jobs in communities throughout the West. Rep. Tipton’s initiative would stop these land grabs and, in his words, “protect communities, businesses, recreation opportunities, farmers and ranchers as well as other individuals that rely on privately-held water rights for their livelihood
There you have it. More transparency. More accountability. More certainty. All coming to the House floor this week.