The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the separation of powers as outlined in the U.S. Constitution. They understood that the powers of government belonged to the people but were loaned to certain elected official for a period of time. The writers of the Constitution deliberately divided the powers of government between the three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial – as well as between federal and state. However, there has been a movement of these powers over a period of several decades.
Rachel del Guidice reports on a talk given by Senator Mike Lee about his efforts to shift this power back to the citizens of the United States. She says that the Utah senator is working to put the people back in control of the government through an initiative called “Article One Project.” She quotes him as saying the following.
Many Americans now feel that they are not in control of their own government…. The administrative state is designed to be insulated from the will of the people.
Our goal is to develop and advance and hopefully enact an agenda of structural reforms that will strengthen Congress by reclaiming the legislative powers that have been ceded to the executive branch.
Lee does not blame the executive branch for this shift in power but insists that Congress is at fault. “We are not, in fact, the victims, we are the perpetrators…. We have done this willfully because it makes our job easier. It is a whole lot easier and less politically risky to have somebody else do the lawmaking than it is to do the lawmaking yourself.
Lee suggests that this executive overreach can be corrected with several pieces of legislation: (1) REINS Act, (2) Separation of Powers Restoration Act, and (3) Agency Accountability Act.
The REINS Act would lay responsibility for every major regulation directly on Congress. Lee says that the professionals in each agency would still contribute to the process, “But ultimately, Congress would be responsible for every major regulation that went into effect. This would make it easier for American voters to know who to blame for bad policies. As things currently stand, lawmakers can have it both ways.”
Lee says that the Separation of Powers Restoration Act “would end the dysfunctional status quo that tilts the legal playing field in favor of bureaucrats who pass the legislation to [place] federal law in the hands of legislators and the power to write and judges power to interpret just as the Constitution.”
Congress has the responsibility to control the purse strings of the federal government. The Agency Accountability Act would make agencies accountable to Congress for the money it spends including the fees, fines, and other unappropriated monies the agencies collect and keep.
Lee urges Congress to act on the three proposals. He says that “real progress” would be made “toward listening to the people and making sure that our government itself has to listen to the people…. If we pass all three bills, it would constitute a fundamental, generational shift in power back to the people.”
Senator Lee knows the Constitution and works hard to restore the Republic to constitutional guidelines. This writer is grateful to have such a man in the Senate.