House passes bill to curb what GOP claims is 'imperial presidency'

March 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. House OK'd a bill Republicans say would curb systemic overreach by President Obama's White House and Democrats decry as base-pleasing.

The legislation is a response to what Republicans charge has been an "imperial presidency" under Obama, whose use of a "pen and phone" strategy to work around Congress only reinforces the need to curb his actions, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The bill, which passed 233-181, would help to "restore balance to our system of government," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said.

"This administration's blatant disregard for the rule of law has not been limited to just a few instances," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "The president's dangerous search for expanded power appears to be endless."

One bill, the ENFORCE the Law Act, would grant either the House or Senate standing in court to challenge an administration action to adopt a formal or informal policy not to enforce laws passed by Congress. Bill sponsors pointed to waivers of requirements in the new healthcare law as examples of what would be subject to the new measure, the Times said.

"Congress doesn't pass suggestions. We don't pass ideas. We pass laws," chief sponsor Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told reporters. "We have the expectation that those laws will be faithfully executed."

A second, similar bill, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, would require the Justice Department to notify Congress of instances in which a federal officer does not administer laws. A vote was planned for Thursday.

Immigration reform advocates said the Faithful Execution of the Law Act is another attempt by Republicans to undercut Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives the Department of Homeland Security discretion concerning undocumented people who came the United States as children.

"It's not enough for the Republican majority to be setting a record for how little they are doing," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a leader for Democrats on the immigration issue. "They expect the same do-nothingness from the president, especially on immigration."

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., contended the bills aren't a "serious attempt at anything," but meant to be political fodder during an election year. Neither measure would be approved in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House threatened to veto them.

"When you talk about imperial anything, look in the mirror," McGovern said. "This House is being run in the most imperial way, where anyone who has a different view is shut out from the debate."

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