The House passed the ENFORCE the Law Act
by a 233-181 party-line vote on Wednesday, and one of the bill's sponsors said President Barack Obama would have voted for it when he was a senator.
The bill, which has the long title "Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law Act," was introduced last week by Republican Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Darrell Issa of California and Bob Goodlatte of Virginia.
Gowdy, appearing Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,"
said Obama, as a senator, decried the balance of power's shifting toward the executive branch.
"You hate to use the word duplicity, but when you change your position based solely on what your title is, it either leads me to believe it wasn't a deeply held conviction in the first place, or maybe you're engaging a little bit in duplicity," Gowdy said.
The purpose of the bill is to give any member of the House or Senate standing in court to sue a president or any member of the executive branch who refuses to follow his constitutional duty to uphold the laws passed by Congress, Gowdy said.
Gowdy and other Republicans say Obama is not enforcing his own healthcare law because he is granting waivers and extensions
for what they say are political purposes.
Gowdy also pointed to Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder, who has declined to enforce
mandatory minimum sentences.
"You may not like mandatory minimums. I personally don't like them in drug cases. But it's the law," Gowdy said.
Congress currently has other options, Gowdy acknowledged, but they aren't always effective. Congress can withhold money through the budgeting process, but that can hurt innocent people. Impeachment is another option, but Gowdy said that is a penalty and not a remedy.
A lawsuit, he said, can enable the judicial branch to force the executive branch to enforce duly passed laws.
Gowdy's bill isn't likely to progress any farther, he acknowledged, considering that Democrats control the Senate.
"I think with the current constitution of the Senate, it probably is on life support," he said.
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