In interviews, Republicans say the prospect of Mr.
Clinton's making wholesale recess appointments after
Congress adjourns - a move promoted by congressional
Democrats - is only the latest skirmish in a war
over the president's trying to legislate
unilaterally from the Oval Office.
concerned not only about appointments but also
legislative actions that are really substitutes for
legislation," said Senate Majority Whip Don
Nickles of Oklahoma. "I'm concerned about him
taking executive orders or executive actions that
really replace the legislative function of
House has thumbed its nose at Congress this year on
a series of high-profile issues.
Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
last month, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
sent a letter to foreign leaders assuring them that
the United States would continue to abide by the
spirit of the pact.
Congress created a new agency last month to oversee
the government's nuclear weapons program as a
response to reports of Chinese spying, Mr. Clinton
signed the bill into law. But he added a directive
putting Energy Secretary Bill Richardson in charge
of what was supposed to be a semiautonomous charter
and prompted lawmakers to accuse Mr. Clinton of
ignoring the law.
with the Pentagon budgeting $10 billion over six
years for a national missile defense system, the
administration nevertheless announced it was
delaying deployment until at least 2005.
month, Mr. Clinton issued an executive order for the
Forest Service to begin the process of eliminating
40 million acres of federal land from use and
development in national forest areas that don't
contain roads. The proposal, which does not include
comment from Congress, affects 140 national forests
in 37 states.
Constitution says Congress shall pass all
laws," Mr. Nickles said. "The president
has some executive powers, but they do not include
legislative powers. They do not include taking 40
million acres of land and saying, `Hmm, I'm going to
make this de facto wilderness.' "
presidents have made more use of executive powers -
Mr. Clinton has averaged 42 executive orders per
year. But Republican lawmakers believe that Mr.
Clinton has begun to step up the pace of such
executive actions as his presidency nears its end.
one of his goals is to help the presidential
campaign of Vice President Al Gore by appealing to
environmentalists with land grabs.
can't just arbitrarily go out there and seize land.
There's a legislative process, an authorization
process, that has to be considered," said
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.
"And he wants, I think, more money for land so
Al Gore can sprinkle it around the country next
spokesman Barry Toiv said the president is acting
when Congress refuses to do so.
Congress has failed to act on some issues that are
critical to the American people," Mr. Toiv
said. "The president is going to use the
authority of his office to meet those
said he was not referring to the test-ban treaty and
the Energy Department reorganization, but to such
other issues as the administration's recent proposal
for medical privacy regulations.
has failed to act on medical privacy," Mr. Toiv
said. "This is a Congress that is not
interested in getting work done on behalf of the
American people. [The president] will continue to
act as appropriate."
acknowledged that the administration's poor
relationship with Congress has led to this point,
but he said Mr. Clinton's solution violates the
separation of powers.
think what he is doing is unconstitutional,"
Mr. Lott said. "Anything they can't get the
Congress to approve, he's just going to do it by
executive order. That is absolutely wrong."
does have options.
example, when Mr. Clinton issued an executive order
in 1995 barring federal contractors from hiring
striker replacements - a directive that ran counter
to existing law - opponents sued and won in federal
tries to legislate, we can contest it in
court," Mr. Nickles said. "We or other
people can tie him up in court, and I think we'll
also has suggested blocking all Clinton nominations
if the president tries to sidestep Congress with a
large number of recess appointments.
don't know that he's going to do it, but it sounds
very much like he's going to be very
aggressive," Mr. Nickles said. "I hope
that's not the case. If he does recess appointments,
he may not get other appointments.
hope we don't get into that," Mr. Nickles said.
"I'm not looking for that. But I am concerned
that there's an agenda by them to do a lot of things
during the recess that they can't accomplish through
the legislative process. This administration seems
to push the envelope on what can be done