March 03, 2021

Lang: Executive orders and administrative code

By Mike Lang, guest columnist

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Ronald Reagan, August 12, 1986.

It seems like the U.S. Government is working overtime to “help” us. I see our new president has been busy signing “executive orders.”

As of February 11, President Biden has signed 30 executive orders, as opposed to 19 by President Trump, 20 by President Obama and only two by President Bush.

Let me start out by expressing my concern about executive orders. Our Constitution is very clear that the legislative authority rests with the Congress. Our laws are to be written by the Congress. The president then either signs the legislation into law, or vetoes the legislation by returning it to Congress unsigned. If Congress then passes the legislation again, by a two-thirds majority, it becomes law without the signature of the president. Executive orders bypass this constitutional procedure. They upset the balance of power established by the Constitution. An example of this is when President Obama claimed no authority to grant amnesty to resident illegal aliens, then proceeded to do just that by executive order.

Of course, Congress actively cooperates with this confusion of authority when it passes laws that give the Executive Branch authority to write “administrative code” to provide details for implementing law. This in effect transfers power from Congress to the president. We now have thousands of pages of “administrative code” not passed by Congress, yet have the authority of U.S. law. Each Federal agency has written thousands of pages of administrative code.

Another example of abuse of power is when a president declares that the U.S. will follow the articles of a treaty negotiated with foreign nations, even though the U.S. Senate has not ratified the treaty. The Constitution requires all treaties be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. An example of this is the “Paris Climate Accord,” about which, by executive order, President Biden declared: “I, Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement … do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.”

Unilaterally, without the action of the U.S. Senate as required by the Constitution, President Biden has said that we will accept and abide by the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement. One of the important results of this agreement will be to make our sources of energy more expensive.

Did you notice that President Biden has also cancelled the Keystone pipeline? Did you also notice that gasoline prices increased by 20 cents per gallon on Inauguration Day?

Another executive order signed by President Biden requires that non-citizens be included in the census and in the apportionment of congressional representatives. This means states with large numbers of resident non-citizens will receive extra numbers of congressmen.

Another executive order signed by President Biden rescinds the “Mexico City Policy” which bans the use of U.S. government funding by foreign non-profit organizations to perform or promote abortions. First implemented by President Reagan, the “Mexico City Policy” was rescinded by President Clinton, reinstated by President Bush, rescinded by President Obama and reinstated by President Trump. This is what happens when we govern by executive order.

In his executive order, President Biden said, “These excessive conditions on foreign … assistance undermine the United States’ efforts to advance gender equality globally by restricting our ability to support women’s health and programs that prevent and respond to gender-based violence.” In other words, he wants to use our tax dollars to fund abortions in foreign countries.

Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a system where un-elected bureaucrats would write “administrative code” with the authority of law. Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a system where the president would issue “executive orders” that would have the effect of law without congressional action.

On April 5, 1887, the first Lord Acton, an Englishman, wrote his now famous words: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” During the last 134 years the power of the British monarch has diminished. During the last 134 years the power of the U.S. President has increased exponentially. Draw your own conclusion.

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Mike Lang is Chairman of the Union County Republican Central Committee.