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House passes ‘Enforce the Law Act’ to push back at imperial president; Obama threatens veto

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Five Democratic lawmakers joined House Republicans Wednesday in approving a measure allowing Congress to sue the president for not “faithfully” executing U.S. laws.

The “Enforce the Law Act,” introduced by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., would authorize either chamber of Congress to hold the executive branch accountable for enforcing legislation, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

In an impassioned floor speech interrupted by applause from other House members, Gowdy took President Obama to task for using his executive pen as a substitute for following the dictates of the Constitution.

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“Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives does not exist to pass suggestions,” he said. “We do not exist to pass ideas. We make law.”

Watch his House floor speech here:


Obama has threatened to veto the measure. In its Statement of Administrative Policy, the White House said:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4138 because it violates the separation of powers by purporting to permit the Congress to challenge in court the exercise by the President of one of his core constitutional functions – taking care that Federal laws are faithfully executed.

Congress ordinarily has the power to define the bounds of the Executive Branch’s enforcement authority under particular statutes, and persons who claim to be harmed by the Executive Branch’s actions may challenge them as inconsistent with the governing statute. But the power the bill purports to assign to Congress to sue the President over whether he has properly discharged his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed exceeds constitutional limitations. Congress may not assign such power to itself, nor may it assign to the courts the task of resolving such generalized political disputes.

If the President were presented with H.R. 4138, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The House approved the measure 233-181. Before it passed, Gowdy made a second scathing floor speech during debate. Watch it here.


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