Revealed: How the GOP plans to block Obama’s executive branch power next year

posted at 8:50 pm on December 27, 2010 by Allahpundit

This comes from TPM, which sounds oddly chagrined notwithstanding the left’s many dire warnings during the Bush years about checks and balances and Congress’s duty to prevent executive overreach.

The difference, presumably: Obama “means well.”

Republicans are all too aware of this conundrum, and have been looking for ways around it. What they found is an obscure authority provided by a 1996 law called the Congressional Review Act. It provides Congress with an expedited process by which to evaluate executive branch regulations, and then give the President a chance to agree or disagree.

House Republicans will have carte blanche next year, and will be able to pass as many of these “resolutions of disapproval” as they want. The key is that a small minority in the Senate can force votes on them as well, and they require only simple-majority support to pass. If they can find four conservative Democrats to vote with them on these resolutions, they can force Obama to serially veto politically potent measures to block unpopular regulations, and create a chilling effect on the federal agencies charged with writing them…

“They’re pushing through a lot of bad policy at the executive level,” [Jim] DeMint said. “We need to figure out how to rein it in.”…

“I think what they’re going to do is try to keep on dramatizing the issues that they think are helpful to them,” [Henry] Waxman said. “The next two years I expect all their actions to be campaign oriented…. They’re all about messaging, they’re all about power, they’re all about politics. What they don’t seem to be concerned about is governing.”

That’s an awfully shrill whine for a procedure as minor as the one described here. All they’re doing, really, is putting Obama through the same symbolic paces that Congress routinely goes through when it holds votes on politically charged amendments that are destined to fail. Case in point: The Pomeroy amendment to last week’s tax cuts bill. House members surely knew it was going down in flames before the roll was called, but progressives wanted to make a statement about the estate tax rate being too low. It was a pure political gesture to their base and undecideds, but that’s what happens sometimes when a congressional minority feels passionate about something. (Incidentally, per Waxman’s theory that the GOP isn’t interested in governing, the final tax cuts bill passed with an almost precisely equal number of Republican and Democratic votes.) The process described by TPM sounds like an interbranch version of that — Congress will essentially offer “amendments” to executive branch regs of which it disapproves and The One will be forced to vote those amendments down with vetoes. Yeah, it’s a gesture, but given that Obama is “studying how to maximize the power of the executive branch” as an end-around to gridlock in Congress, it’s an important one. Executive power and statist ambitions will be a major storyline over the next two years; if Obama wants to dispense with Congress in governing, he’ll have to put up with the inconvenience of people occasionally pointing that out. Boo hoo.

Exit question: Is Obama really the target of this maneuver? The first line of defense is the requirement of a simple majority in the Senate to send the resolution of disapproval to his desk in the first place, which means there are going to be some awfully tough votes for centrist Democrats like McCaskill and Tester who are up in 2012. If they stick with their caucus and vote no, the Republicans will hammer them in the general election for enabling an Obama power grab. If they defect and vote with the GOP, the left will go berserk in the primaries. If anything, I think this improves conservative odds of a pick-up in the Senate more so than in the White House.


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and create a chilling effect on the federal agencies charged with writing them

Awesome.

strictnein on December 27, 2010 at 8:54 PM

My word…are the Republicans’ testicles finally descending a little bit? Please let it be so!

KSgop on December 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

“I think what they’re going to do is try to keep on dramatizing the issues that they think are helpful to them,” [Henry] Waxman said. “The next two years I expect all their actions to be campaign oriented…. They’re all about messaging, they’re all about power, they’re all about politics. What they don’t seem to be concerned about is governing.”

Sounds just like he’s talking about the dems in the last 2 years and the next 2 years…..
The republicans never had a chance to govern, they were in the back of the bus.

Bambi on December 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

This is the same president who rammed ObamaCare down the public’s throats despite the fact that they didn’t like it…by far.

He intends to have his way no matter how unpopular.

Obama will have no problem rejecting these dainty little “resolutions of disapproval.”

Robert_Paulson on December 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

YES! Make him wear out the veto pen…define him for what he is!

winston on December 27, 2010 at 8:56 PM

As long as Congress does this IN ADDITION TO cutting funding for Obama’s power grabs whenever and wherever they can, I have no problem with it.

Aitch748 on December 27, 2010 at 9:00 PM

What is the enforcement mechanism for a ‘resolution of disapproval’? The UN security council passed numerous resolutions that Saddam Husein ignored.

The GOP think they can impeach the president because he ignores a ‘sense of the congress’ resolution?

Obama needs a crisis or two or three if he is going to win in 2012. Will the GOP step up and hand him one on a silver platter?

Skandia Recluse on December 27, 2010 at 9:00 PM

My word…are the Republicans’ testicles finally descending a little bit? Please let it be so!

KSgop on December 27, 2010 at 8:55 PM

My gut feeling is no they are not! They will be tough on some issues that they know will go down to veto but sound good. Then they will capitulate on something that is the core of conservative policy saying they had to just because they want to appease the left.

bluemarlin on December 27, 2010 at 9:04 PM

If anything, I think this improves conservative odds of a pick-up in the Senate more so than in the White House.

Methinks it could improve the odds for both.

anXdem on December 27, 2010 at 9:05 PM

They better get the message machine in gear. The media won’t help them, so they’ll have to embrace Sarah’s tactics and go around the media.

beatcanvas on December 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM

If they can find four conservative Democrats

Is there someone in the Senate named Diogenes?

Tommy_G on December 27, 2010 at 9:08 PM

there are going to be some awfully tough votes for centrist Democrats like McCaskill and Tester who are up in 2012.

Allah, I don’t think you know what the word centrist means.

Both of these rabid leftists voted for ObamaCare, Porkulus, repeal of DADT, START, Financial Takeover (aka Financial Reform).

Exactly what makes them any more centrist than Reid? Their voting records are identical.

angryed on December 27, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Relevant question: Does Mitch McConnell know about this plan?

steebo77 on December 27, 2010 at 9:11 PM

“I think what they’re going to do is try to keep on dramatizing the issues that they think are helpful to them,” [Henry] Waxman said. “The next two years I expect all their actions to be campaign oriented…. They’re all about messaging, they’re all about power, they’re all about politics. What they don’t seem to be concerned about is governing.”

From Waxman and the left, this is rich, indeed.

Schadenfreude on December 27, 2010 at 9:12 PM

This provision while being good for shining the spotlight on bad and otherwise onerous regulations does not actually stop them from being carried out. It may be good from a long term political standpoint to score points with the public and keep the Dems on the defensive but it lacks any teeth to actually STOP the enforcement of rules such as net neutrality, the EPA’s latest emmissions regs, and who knows what else.

I don’t know how specific congressional oversight can be when it comes to eliminating funds for bad rules but I fear this is probably not going to be as useful as we might hope. If this administration insists on forging ahead with their socialist agenda, which is already pretty far down the road, impeachment may be the only alternative. And the case for that would be the direct contravention of Congressional votes on a particular issue. The latest EPA regs are an example and so is net neutrality.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:13 PM

If the US Constitution hasn’t stopped Obama from implementing his agenda..why would a silly resolution?

The law means nothing to the radicals…

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:15 PM

If they can find four conservative Democrats

The tired old joke of why the Nativity wasn’t held in Washington, D.C., comes to mind. They couldn’t find three Wise Men and a virgin (originally a Polish joke).

pdigaudio on December 27, 2010 at 9:17 PM

Obama can’t exercise Executive end-runs around Congress with regulations if the agencies making such regulations aren’t funded.

No veto required on that – just not funding the agencies in question.

Much simpler for the spineless legislators, that is, than actually trying to stop regulations via a voting rigmarole. No votes required to not fund something!

ajacksonian on December 27, 2010 at 9:19 PM

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:15 PM

The constitution is a “living document” remember? It may be on life support though. I think we are in for a Jacksonian moment like the one he had with Chief Justice John Marshall who ruled against Jackson’s plan to forceable resettle the Cherokee Indians. Jackson said, “Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him try and enforce it.” In effect that’s what Obama is saying to Congress’s laws.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Excellent strategy. If Obama is determined to legislate-via-executive-fiat, make him pay for it.

Vyce on December 27, 2010 at 9:21 PM

pdigaudio on December 27, 2010 at 9:17 PM

+100 Thanks, I needed a good laugh.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Claire M is very “fluid”…she’s definitely a lefty, early Obamabot…but she can pretend with the best of them.

r keller on December 27, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Jackson said, “Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him try and enforce it.” In effect that’s what Obama is saying to Congress’s laws.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:20 PM

And that is exactly what Congress and the American people should say to Obama.

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Vyce on December 27, 2010 at 9:21 PM

Unfortunately the 0 has a pretty big stash he can draw on if he needs to. It’s all the unspent stimulus money he’s been quietly hoarding. One of the first things the House should do is to divert all those funds to help pay off the deficit. Then you’ll hear some howling from the Dems and 0.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:26 PM

Unfortunately the 0 has a pretty big stash he can draw on if he needs to.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:26 PM

It’s not his to draw from. The beauty is he’ll have to get permission to access it.

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:29 PM

I’m all for passing the House to pass a defense bill, passing a homeland security bill, and maybe a couple of others — and adjourning.

No Continuing Resolution, no EPA, FCC, Department of Education, National Public Radio, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor — not a dime. If there are enough nanny-state lifetime-job micromanaging Federal bureaucrats that can afford to work their evil schemes without a paycheck for two years, they can have a blast. Or maybe Obama can pay them out of his “stash”.

cthulhu on December 27, 2010 at 9:32 PM

I really think changes are needed. Executive powers such as Obama is wielding, on domestic affairs, such as cap and trade and other regulations need to stop being abused. I can see for wartime issues, or foreign issues, or limits to all of them, because he’s well on his way to becoming a dictator. This is just waaaaaaay out of hand.

capejasmine on December 27, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Whilst we are at it…

… I think bringing each and every Obowma Czar up before the House,

and have them explain exactly what they have been doing for the past two years…

Seven Percent Solution on December 27, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Forget it. The media will quote some democrat shill calling it “procedural chicanery” or something, pound the GOP as “obstructionist” or “reactionary” or “vindictive”, and before you know it Boehner will be on “Meet the Press” apologizing and backtracking.

rrpjr on December 27, 2010 at 9:39 PM

I think the continuing resolution may be where we have a shot. I forgot about that. That comes up pretty early and our frosh team could simply leave out funding for a lot of things. I hope you’re right Katy, that he will need permission to access the stimulus cash but I suspect he may have his ways to get his mitts on it w/o congressional approval.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Uh, is it wise to reveal your strategy before you even get into power? Could Reid just decide to call congress back into session and repeal that law? I’m sure he’d have all the RINO’s on board. Just take a look at all the stuff they did last week. Coming back into session and repealing one little law is nothing.

JellyToast on December 27, 2010 at 9:42 PM

I agree with many of the above:

Forget about the “stern letters” to the out-of-control regulators: DEFUND THEM!!!

Let our feckless UN representatives have the monopoly on useless “stern letters”.

landlines on December 27, 2010 at 9:52 PM

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:40 PM

The congress controls the money. His “stash” isn’t his.

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec8.html

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him try and enforce it.” In effect that’s what Obama is saying to Congress’s laws.
shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 9:20 PM

When it comes to Congress, the only bottom line is… the bottom line.

In other words, Congress needs to say: “Obama has made his executive order — now let him PAY for it.”

It’s not complicated. All conservative Congressmen have to do is demand a balanced budget — along with payments on existing debt. Forget Obamacare and every other NEW program “king” Obama wants to impose by imperial fiat; just fund national defense and let pretty much every other part of the federal government rot on the vine.

But will Congress grow a brain and a pair of balls? Doubtful.

logis on December 27, 2010 at 10:06 PM

A Majority vote in the U.S. Senate is to be considered a success, which gives a good check on the WH if we are not able to boot O’ out of office in 12.

hawkman on December 27, 2010 at 10:32 PM

They’re all about messaging, they’re all about power, they’re all about politics. What they don’t seem to be concerned about is governing.”

Waxman can say this with a straight face? Governing equals regulating?

Cindy Munford on December 27, 2010 at 10:33 PM

If Congress voted against “net neutrality” and he goes ahead and does it anyway is that an impeachable offense? If Congress voted against the EPA emissions regs and he has his EPA do it anyway is that an impeachable offense. And just how can that be done with only the House of Rep’s. to block such power grabs. I feel like we’re becoming Venezuela.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 10:34 PM

When push comes to shove these guys don’t seem to care as long as they can move their agenda forward. The public be damned. The normal rules be damned. They’re going to keep pushing till somehow on a holiday, in the dark of night, when nobody is paying attention, boom, they sneak in their latest assault on freedom.

shmendrick on December 27, 2010 at 10:38 PM

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

And there is the provision that allows the military to defend the borders of the USA. Not sure how it can be put much more directly. 20-30 million illegals is without question, an invasion!

rgranger on December 27, 2010 at 10:54 PM

The GOP better reign in the EPA as well. Otherwise Obama’s concern for the environment is going to screw the middle class he claims to be fighter for.

http://www.bluecollarphilosophy.com/2010/12/epa-and-obama-to-screw-the-middle-class-with-greenhous-gas-limits-video.html

The Democrats love to use bloated bureaucracies to control things they cannot legitimately do via legislation. That is a hallmark of someone harboring Totalitarian aspirations.

Blue Collar Todd on December 27, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Waxman can say this with a straight face?
Cindy Munford on December 27, 2010 at 10:33 PM

Are you kidding? That circus sideshow reject has never said anything with a “straight face.”

I pity any cartoonist who tries to caricature that man; I don’t think it’s possible to make him look more like a weaselly politician than he actually does in real life.

logis on December 27, 2010 at 11:09 PM

I hope the Republicans are smart enough to deal with Obama’s attempts to circumvent Congressional will and not pay any attention to the sycophant press that is going to lie about what is really going on.

They really do need to get some of their messaging down and give people a lesson in the Constitution. Congress has been too willing, these past 2 years, to give power to the President and Obama has been too quick to give executive power to Congress. It’s time to get these things back in sync.

bflat879 on December 27, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Waxman can say this with a straight face?
Cindy Munford on December 27, 2010 at 10:33 PM

My question is where was the Republican calling out this raging idiocy? Who is standing up every day to fight this crap and make counter-narratives with the same boldness?

rrpjr on December 27, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Waxman has an extremely creepy rat-like face and I’d be scared if I walked by him on a dark street at night, or a sunny street during the day. I can’t even watch him speak, he’s just…creepy.

kellyjane on December 28, 2010 at 12:28 AM

My question is where was the Republican calling out this raging idiocy? Who is standing up every day to fight this crap and make counter-narratives with the same boldness?

rrpjr on December 27, 2010 at 11:19 PM

She was in Alaska some of the time, the rest of the time she was all over the country, on Fox News, on Facebook, on Twitter, and giving speeches to raise money for causes she believes in and hammering 0 everytime he opened his mouth or issued some new lame decree. And she was the ONLY one who fought for us, who stood up to be counted when NO ONE else would. She was the one who framed the health care debate by revealing the death panels, renamed cap & trade more appropriately as cap and tax, stood up for our military and our vets and wasn’t afraid to take all the heat the left could generate and never withered, only got stronger. Now who could that be? And where would we be now without her? I shudder to think.

shmendrick on December 28, 2010 at 1:10 AM

If they can find four conservative Democrats to vote with them on these resolutions, they can force Obama to serially veto politically potent measures to block unpopular regulations, and create a chilling effect on the federal agencies charged with writing them…

I’ll be in my bunk.

Pablo on December 28, 2010 at 1:34 AM

Mr. Chao needs to get Murkowski in line, first!!!

Gohawgs on December 28, 2010 at 2:35 AM

Executive power on the level that Obama will wield it must be curbed. So must that of arrogant agencies that also feel that we are the stupidest of the stupid. I kind of like my world pretty much the way it is except for the spending….a great deal of which is caused by out of control fed agencies and mis-guided political ‘leaders’. Simply limiting the reach of these agencies will be a step toward balancing the budget.

jeanie on December 28, 2010 at 8:52 AM

f they can find four conservative Democrats

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHAHA

The Mega Independent on December 28, 2010 at 9:24 AM

The law means nothing to the radicals…

katy on December 27, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Agreed, but posturing and symbolism are everything to them. If they play their cards right, the House can put Obama and his fellow-travellers in a really bad political situation come 2012.

labrat on December 28, 2010 at 10:56 AM

This is unrelated, but every time I look at Obama’s mouth, I think this guy looks like he’s got serious halitosis.

SilentWatcher on December 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM

“The next two years I expect all their actions to be campaign oriented…. They’re all about messaging, they’re all about power, they’re all about politics. What they don’t seem to be concerned about is governing.”

So what are democrats all about Henry? It certainly isnt governing. You’re pointing one finger at the repubs and three back at yourself. You described the democrat party perfectly.

abcurtis on December 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Sounds like Obama believes in the “unitary executive”, which, iirc, was labled by the left as “pure evil” when Bush pursued it, albeit at a much lessor extent than Obama seems prepared to do.

Monkeytoe on December 28, 2010 at 12:01 PM

the final tax cuts bill

There were no tax cuts in the bill. It left the tax rates the same and reduced withholding taxes by 2% temporarily. Those people effected will still be responsible for the same amount of tax at the end of the year.

Please don’t regurgitate fascist talking points.

peacenprosperity on December 28, 2010 at 2:34 PM