On Feb. 3 on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) spearheaded a new effort in conjunction with Hillsdale College and several lawmakers dubbed the Article I Project.
The well-intentioned, well-timed project by Lee, who for long has urged the restoration of the constitutional separation of powers, comes in an era when $2.6 trillion out of the $3.9 trillion federal budget is spent automatically by agencies on so-called “mandatory” spending without any real vote in Congress.
At a time when Congress has long since delegated much of its law-making powers to unelected, unaccountable agencies that produce hundreds of thousands pages of rules nobody understands.
And when President Barack Obama issues arbitrary executive actions at whim and whose pen and phone are now legendary.
In other words, restoring Congress’ Article I power of the purse is exactly what the doctor ordered to fix what ails Washington, D.C. Which is an out-of-control executive branch and its many agencies that have grown far beyond what the Framers of the Constitution intended or ever envisioned in 1787.
Lee is definitely on to something.
That is why Lee and other lawmakers should consider supporting legislation offered by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the “Consolidated Appropriations Amendments of 2016” to begin the process of restoring Congress’ rightful, constitutional powers — by defunding specific executive overreaches by the Obama administration.
The bill includes policy riders that have already passed House appropriations committees and that have passed the House of Representatives on the floor, such as an amendment that would stop a Department of Housing and Urban Development rule to rezone any city or county take accepts any part of the $3.3 billion of annual community development block grants.
These numerous provisions were unfortunately left on the table during the omnibus negotiations, but they represent policies that have already been vetted by House leadership. They have already been through the process.
The legislation would also put a ban on any midnight regulations by the Obama administration.
In short, Buck’s Article I supplemental provides a real pathway to actually accomplishing something this year to bring a halt to the Obama agenda for the last 11 months of his presidency.
As Buck told Americans for Limited Government in a statement, “Article I is not a brand, a motto, or a Facebook graphic. It’s a constitutional principle. We must rein in the executive branch right now with legislative initiatives in the House and Senate.”
Buck continued, “The Article I Consolidated Appropriations Amendments Act includes several provisions to rein in overreach on environmental, labor, and other issues. Passing 12 appropriations bills instead of one omnibus will leverage the congressional power of the purse. And placing a sunset on all federal programs gives Congress the chance to assess whether programs really serve their purpose and the American public.”
The legislation has already gained real momentum in the House of Representatives, with cosponsors as diverse as conservative stalwart U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and House Rules Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), indicating that Article I is something that can bring Congressional Republicans together.
Also backing the bill are Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) and Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).
With mounting support, the bill would be a great way to usher the Article I Project into the U.S. Senate. The Buck bill and Lee would be perfect together.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.