Liberal Activists Push Obama for More Executive Orders

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 01:12 PM

By Aaron Stern

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Conservatives have criticized President Barack Obama's use of executive orders; liberal activists think he should use them more.

A report from BuzzFeed Politics says that LGBT and immigrant rights activists and the Brennan Center for Justice are urging the White House to use its power to circumvent Congress to enact new regulations.

The Brennan Center released a list of 15 actions it wants the White House to take, ranging from an order that would require private entities with government contracts to disclose their political spending, to directing the attorney general "to issue new guidance banning discriminatory law-enforcement techniques."

Republicans have said Obama's use of executive orders violates the Constitution, particularly as he has used them to amend and delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. GOP members of Congress have threatened to sue the president over his actions, but according to the Daily Beast, Obama has used the second-fewest executive orders of any president since World War II.

As of Jan. 20 – through the first five years of his administration – Obama signed 168 executive orders, according to a database maintained by The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. That is an average of about 34 per year, which projects to 272 over the span of two terms – far fewer than Bill Clinton's 364 and Ronald Reagan's 381.

It would also be fewer than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who signed 291 executive orders in his eight years in office.

The only president who signed fewer executive orders than Obama is George H.W. Bush; he signed 166 executive orders in his lone term in office, which projects to 332 over eight years. Harry Truman signed the most executive orders of his post-World War II peers, with 907.

Executive orders are a power granted to the executive branch by the Constitution to enable the president to achieve policy objectives without going through Congress. They are limited in scope and are intended to be used with the implied support of Congress, though they are often used to sidestep the legislative process, according to FindLaw's Brett Snider.

A report surfaced Tuesday that at least one interest group that won't get its wish from Obama are immigration rights activists. Meeting with White House officials, they were told Obama would not use executive orders to halt deportation of illegal immigrants for fear of upsetting potential legislation on immigration reform in Congress, Fox News Latino reported.

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