||Stop Clinton power grabs
The Victoria Advocate
By: Dan Cobb
One of the most interesting
pieces of legislation introduced in the current session of
Congress is the work of Ron Paul, who represents our own
14th Congressional District in Washington.
We refer to HR 2655, the Separation of Powers Restoration
Act of 1999, by which Paul hopes to rein in the unbridled
use of executive orders by presidents to short-circuit the
The problem of presidential usurpation of
legislative power has existed since the establishment of the
United States, but it has grown exponentially with the
expansion of the federal government during the 20th century.
Somewhere along the way, the public came to look on the
president as the governmental equivalent of a corporate CEO
-- the person who actually runs the country -- rather than
as an executive who fulfills a set of limited constitutional
Paul's bill, which currently is awaiting
action by the three committees that have been given
jurisdiction over it, would require that all presidential
directives -- executive orders and proclamations alike --
specify the constitutional or statutory provision that
empowers the president to take action. Absent that, a
directive would be invalid.
A new study by the Cato Institute
documents the explosion in executive orders since Theodore
Roosevelt, who issued 1,006 such orders, compared to only a
couple of hundred issued by the 24 presidents who preceded
him in office. Bill Clinton has signed more than 300, and
courts have stopped him only once.
In 1995, Clinton issued Executive
Order 12954 in an effort to overturn the 1938 U.S. Supreme
Court decision that allows employers to hire replacement
workers during strikes. In 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994,
Congress explicitly rejected legislation to achieve that
end. A federal court struck down Clinton's attempt to
circumvent the courts and Congress as unconstitutional,
which clearly it was.
In 1996, a few weeks before winning
reelection, Clinton issued Proclamation 6920, establishing
the 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Mon-ument
in Utah. A House committee later determined that the order
was illegal because the lands were not threatened. The panel
also found that the president's real goal was to undermine a
congressional wilderness proposal. A suit against the order
In 1997, Clinton's Executive Order
13061 established the American Heritage Rivers Initiatives,
which requires federal approval of state and local land use
decisions affecting designated rivers, and he redirected $2
million in congressionally appropriated funds to launch the
program. A suit to halt its implementation was dismissed.
Clinton's most egregious abuse so far is
Executive Order 13083, issued in 1998, which redefined
federalism (the relationship between the federal government
and the states) to assert federal supremacy. The order
allowed federal decisions to pre-empt those of the states
for a variety of new reasons, including whenever there was a
need for ``uniform national standards,'' or when states were
reluctant to impose ``necessary regulations.''
Congressional outrage over that one was so
intense that the president suspended his order, but the
trend is clear -- Clinton, in the words of an editorial
writer for the Indianapolis Star, ``has turned the
presidency into a one-man legislature.''
Moreover, it's only going to get worse. In
testimony on his bill before a House subcommittee, Paul
noted that the Nov. 1 issue of U.S. News & World Report
magazine reported that ``Clinton plans a series of executive
orders and changes to federal rules that he can sign into
law without first getting the ok from GOP naysayers. White
House Chief of Staff John Podesta was quoted as saying,
`There's a pretty wide sweep of things we're looking to do,
and we're going to be very aggressive in pursuing it.'''
Clearly the White House is out of control.
Congress must pass Paul's bill if the country is to prevent
further usurpation of power by the White House.
Originally published on: November 16, 1999 on page 12A.