President Barack Obama may have run for political office by promising to end wars in the Middle East, but his vow to impose executive actions to push his political agenda will ignite a political war in the United States, says Newt Gingrich.
But Congress has ways to fight back, he explains in an opinion piece titled "A Dictatorial President Obama Versus the American People’s Congress" posted Friday to his website
One way Congress can retake control would be by passing a short-term continuing resolution during the current lame-duck session to preserve Congressional ability to use spending provisions as negotiating chips if Obama doesn't back down on his plans, the former House Speaker writes.
Republicans defeated Democrats on every government level, and many Democrats opted to stay home and refused to vote, writes Gingrich. However, Obama is acting like his side won and "he has a resounding mandate to impose his policies on the country by presidential fiat."
The Founding Fathers intended for Congress, not the president, to make laws and set public policy, says Gingrich, while the president's duty is to execute laws, not make them.
And Congress has many tools to defend itself, including impeachment, said Gingrich, "but as a political matter impeachment requires the American people to render absolute judgment against the president."
The procedure has been tried twice, against Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and the threat of impeachment drove President Richard Nixon to resign. But in Obama's case, "it’s very clear that the country does not want an impeachment process," Gingrich writes.
Congress also has the "power of the purse," as money can only be spent with Congressional permission and appropriations, he says, adding that "some people are so furious at President Obama’s various threats that they would like to attach a spending limitation provision to the continuing resolution necessary to keep the government open."
But while spending limitation amends are legitimate and constitutional, Gingrich says there is a question over whether the first steps to reassert Congress' authority should spark a full crisis.
"I think it would be better to set up a series of limitations which cripple the President but don’t hurt the American people," he says.
In addition to blocking spending, newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could announce that presidential appointments won't be considered by the new Senate unless Obama acts within his Constitutional authority.
"Since this would include the new Attorney General [Loretta Lynch] and other important presidential appointments, the threat would be real and immediate."
The Appropriations Committee should also announce that it will block all executive branch requests for reprogramming, or the reshuffling of budget appropriations, except for on national security.
In addition, spending limitations could be attached to virtually all bills that Congress sends to the president, writes Gingrich.
And once Republicans control the Senate, they can divide the following continuing resolution in two, which will allow funding everything Americans care about for the first year, and put the activities Obama wants in a spending limitation rider in the second, smaller resolution.
"Let the President veto spending for his pet programs over an argument he can’t win," says Gingrich. "Such a selective spending limitation would be very difficult to arouse the American people against but would strike at the heart of the President’s ability to achieve his goals."
And finally, the Appropriations Committee should begin targeting Obama's individual perks, cutting out staff, travel funding and more.
"The Founding Fathers were vividly aware of the dangers of tyranny...they would be appalled at the arrogance and hubris of a president who thought he could impose his will against the Congress," writes Gingrich.
"If President Obama wants to declare war on the American people’s Congress, he will presently find himself as isolated and defeated as King George III. This is the dangerous path he is on."
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