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Floor Statement of Senator Mike Crapo

Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Executive Orders Limitation Act of 1999.

A growing number of Americans have expressed concern that President Clinton has sought to bypass the constitutional role of Congress by issuing Executive orders or proclamations that have the force of law and the practical impact of law. Indeed, the use of Executive orders has increased dramatically. For example, the first 24 Presidents issued 1,262 Executive orders, whereas the last 17 Presidents have issued 11,798 orders.

The bill I introduce today seeks to strengthen article I of the Constitution which grants all legislative powers to the Congress. The bill seeks to strengthen our system of checks and balances by ensuring that all Executive orders are based on the President's expressed constitutional or statutory authority. The bill would require the President to cite the exact constitutional or statutory authority he is exercising when he issues an Executive order. It would require the publication of a cost-benefit analysis and a public comment period before an Executive order can take effect.

The act would also provide for expedited judicial review of questionable Executive orders. The Congress has previously set limits on the President's ability to issue Executive orders when it required that all orders be printed in the Federal Register. My bill would not in any way limit the President's ability to issue an Executive order which he has the constitutional right to issue. The Executive Orders Limitation Act of 1999 seeks to preserve the constitutional separation of powers by safeguarding Congress' legislative power, while at the same time protecting the President's constitutional and statutory authorities.

The question of how a law is enacted in America was one of the most important and significant debates in our constitutional convention. That is why we have a system of government established under our Constitution by which it is the Congress that makes the law that governs this Nation. The President then decides, as he has the right to do, whether to sign that law or not. We do not have a system where one man or even one branch of our Government has the ability to unilaterally create law. Yet that is what the practical effect of the use of Executive orders has become in today's timeframe in the way that President Clinton has begun using these Executive order powers.

This legislation will bring appropriate controls to the issue. If the President has constitutional or statutorily delegated authority to issue Executive orders in a given area, those authorities and those rights are preserved. But in those areas where Congress or the Constitution have not given the President the authority to enact and act as though he were imposing new legal requirements, then that is prohibited.

This legislation is critical. It should not be deemed a threat to anyone from any particular perspective on any issue. It should be deemed what it is, an effort to restore the balance of power and the system of government, in particular the system of making laws our constitutional founders intended when they created the Constitution of this country.



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