President Barack Obama made it clear in his State of the Union address that he would make greater use of executive orders to achieve what he wasn't getting from Congress, but House Republicans warned they will be on guard against such White House actions.
"President Obama has decided to try to bypass Congress and go it alone, using executive orders in an attempt to put into effect policies he cannot achieve in the legislative process," GOP Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, who chairs the House Committee on Administration, told Newsmax. "This is troubling not only because it shows a lack of leadership, but also because such authority is not found in our Constitution."
Miller is a co-sponsor of the STOP Resolution, which she said "would require the House to take legal action against the president for not faithfully executing the law as required by the Constitution."
Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, president of the House GOP's freshman class, told Newsmax, "The Constitution is clear — we don't have a monarch." Messer emphasized that "one of the core functions of the legislative branch is oversight. We all recognize this and this is something we're going to work extra hard on — namely, seeing that [Obama] plays by the rules."
In his speech Tuesday night, Obama said, "America does not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
The president remained vague about specific executive orders, other than proposals for a minimum wage increase for federal contract workers, creating new retirement savings accounts, and truck fuel efficiency standards.
Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told Newsmax, "Instead of using executive orders, he should work with Congress to pass programs that all Americans agree on. What we need is more opportunity, not more government intervention. The best way to get our economy back to work is low taxes and less regulation."
Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a member of the "class of 2010" that gave Republicans their biggest majority in the House since 1946, said flatly, "This president has lost the support of the American people and now he's trying to circumvent Congress with all this talk of more executive orders."
A former president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, Fleischmann recalled how the president recently issued two executive orders that strengthened background checks for gun purchases.
"He was going around the Second Amendment to the Constitution and trying to greatly enhance the role and scope of the federal government when Congress would not," Fleischmann told Newsmax.
With House Republicans scheduled to gather at their annual retreat next week, Fleischmann and other GOP lawmakers left no doubt when they spoke to Newsmax that the president's fresh interest in executive orders would be high on the agenda for discussion.
"President Obama's plans to circumvent the Constitution in order to pursue his big government agenda will do nothing to end the pain that so many Americans are suffering under his failed policies," freshman Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina told Newsmax,
However, Obama's call in his speech for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour may not be completely doomed among Republicans.
A number of House GOP members say they are willing to accept a modest increase in the minimum wage in return for other reforms, such as an increased Earned Income Tax Credit.
In attempting to generate support for an overall minimum wage hike, the president announced that he was using his power of executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors.
Messer warned that "it would be a mistake for Republicans to take the bait and play the bad guy. We've got to address the challenges of the low-income families and do so with forward and positive proposals."
But, he added, "a dramatic hike in the minimum wage is going to be a disaster for all those looking for work — students, new workers, and immigrants. Going to $10.10 is a big mistake.
"But our response doesn't have to be all or nothing. I'm willing to work with anyone on a compromise proposal."
Most House Republicans who spoke to Newsmax denounced both Obama's use of an executive order and his call on Congress to increase the overall minimum wage.
"It's pandering and it will create more unemployment," Fleischmann said. "It's just one more example of how this president doesn't understand the free market."
The minimum wage, Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks told Newsmax, "should be seen as a starting point on someone's career path rather than a long-term destination. We should focus on closing the skills gap so Americans can independently pursue the jobs that will help them achieve upward mobility. Government intervention in the private sector will not solve income inequality."
Messer also told Newsmax that "the political reality" is that Obama "is using the issue of raising the minimum wage to change the subject from the disastrous healthcare rollout. He would rather talk about anything other than that. He'd rather talk about Benghazi than the progress of Obamacare."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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