|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 3.2.15
Monday, March 2, 2015 â€“
It's About the Rule of Law
For those who might have missed it, last weekâ€™s column discussed efforts to protect the Constitution and take action against the Presidentâ€™s recent actions on immigration. I and others in Congress believe that these actions were improper, and that the President does not have the authority to take the actions he took on immigration. These actions have also been questioned by the Judicial branch.
There is much debate about the tactics we ought to pursue in fighting these actions. Some â€“ myself included â€“ think restricting funding for these programs is the way to go. Others feel the Presidentâ€™s actions should instead be fought in the courts. I believe the courts should be used, but the Founding Fathers anticipated each branch would use its powers to check another branch if it exceeded its authority. Therefore, both the Legislative and Judicial branches should be engaged in checking an out of control Executive branch.
I believe the courts should determine the Presidentâ€™s immigration actions are unconstitutional. That will take time. In the interim, since I believe that the President did not have the authority to take these actions and that they are unlawful, I am of the view that Congress is obligated to hold the President accountable in its own way: by exercising its power of the purse as an equal branch of government.
Sadly, Senate Democrats for weeks have blocked consideration of a House-passed bill that would defund the Presidentâ€™s unlawful actions.
Further, it seems they are not willing to even sit down with us at the negotiating table to have this important debate and work out our differences. â€śWe will not allow a conference to take place,â€ť Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on February 26. â€śIt wonâ€™t happen.â€ť This is despite Senator Reid saying in May of 2013, â€śwe arenâ€™t afraid to try resolve our differences in a conference committee. This has been the custom of the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost 200 years.â€ť
The process spelled out in Jeffersonâ€™s Manual of Parliamentary Practice outlines that the two houses meet to resolve the differences in their respective bills or concepts. That is how Congress is supposed to work. But Senator Reid has indicated he will invoke the modern filibuster/cloture rule to stop the process established so long ago, a process that has served our republic well. I find this outrageous. Outrageous that any minority can stop the two houses from discussing their differences.
Accordingly, some of my colleagues in the House are now joining me in my calls for the U.S. Senate to return to the historical filibuster rule. Readers of this column are aware that I have been urging this change for years. I first wrote of on November 16, 2012, soon after the election that left the Senate controlled by the Democrats and President Obama returning to the White House. For those keeping count, from November 2012 until now, I have written on this subject 6 times in this column alone and have spoken on it numerous times.
On the March 1 â€śMeet the Pressâ€ť news program, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Senate should get rid of the 60-vote threshold. Congressmen Raul Labrador (R-ID), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and others have made similar arguments. Making this change would get a bill with immigration restrictions to the desk of the President.
The President has a pen, as he has reminded us (and a phone). He will likely veto such a bill. But the President needs to stop using Harry Reid as a shield from him doing his job. Let Congress, elected by the people of the United States, work its will and do its job on numerous issues. If you wish to face their wrath, go ahead, Mr. President. Use that pen, veto that bill, and go against the wishes of the majority of the American people.
As I write this column, it is unclear how this DHS funding debate will play out, as the Senate Democrats are expected to continue with their obstructionism. However, I would remind them that this debate is not about whether you like the Presidentâ€™s immigration policy. It is about whether you like the rule of law.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.