Employer Mandate Under the Affordable Care Actby Representative Chris Stewart
Posted on 2014-01-09
STEWART. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague Tom
Rice for introducing this important resolution. I am proud to stand in
support of this, and I thank him for giving me a few minutes to discuss
what is a very, very important issue today.
My friend knows that I was a writer. Before I came to Congress, I wrote a number of books. I spent a lot of time writing about and studying this great Nation--about the history of this Nation, about the history of the world--and I think I know a little bit about some of these things. I think one of the most remarkable but underappreciated characteristics of General George Washington, who was, I think, a hero for many of us, was his deference to the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. Although in many cases he knew what needed to be done, he always recognized that he derived his authority--he derived all of his power--not from himself but from the Congress, and he understood that the Congress was the organization and the body that held the power and the keys to a successful government.
It is a lesson, as we have been discussing here tonight, that, unfortunately, this President does not seem to appreciate or to even understand.
Our Founding Fathers made it very clear in the Constitution that the responsibility of the President was to take care that the laws be faithfully executed--not selectively chosen, not preferred or some of them ignored, but faithfully executed. It is his constitutional responsibility, but time and time again, we have seen this President as he ignores this constitutionally mandated responsibility. He prefers to pick and to choose which laws he will enforce.
I would like to quote eminent Judge Michael McConnell, who recently wrote: The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the President on legal and constitutional issues, has repeatedly opined that the President may decline to enforce laws he believes are unconstitutional, but these opinions have always insisted that the President has no authority to refuse to enforce a statute which he simply opposes for policy reasons.
This has become a very troubling trend for this President. As my friend has already pointed out, among other examples, he has already declined to enforce immigration laws against a large number of illegal immigrants. He has chosen not to enforce work requirements that Congress mandated as part of the 1990 welfare reform programs, programs which had broad bipartisan support and which everyone recognizes were very successful. He has chosen to change the congressional requirements that States must meet under No Child Left Behind, and in none of these cases did he say he believed the laws were unconstitutional. He simply disagreed with the policies and so refused to enforce those laws. Now, we may or may not agree with the President on the merits of these policies, but as an institution, Congress should be extraordinarily concerned that the President is usurping our role as legislators, and it is setting a very dangerous precedent.
The President, for example, went to great lengths to convince the Supreme Court and other Americans that the Affordable Care Act was, indeed, constitutional. He won that battle, which means he should have to enforce this law that he argued was constitutional or, if not, come to Congress and ask for changes to the law, but over the last few months, we have seen numerous delays and exemptions to ObamaCare without any input at all from Congress. Now, once again, regardless of your views on the merits of ObamaCare, the President's actions should make everyone who respects the separation of power and the role of the executive very uncomfortable.
Can you imagine if Governor Romney had been elected President and if, on his first day in office, he had said, ``I am going to delay the employer mandate''? Do you think any of my colleagues from across the aisle would have supported him in that? Imagine if he had said, again as was illustrated before, ``I think that the capital gains tax is too high. To get our economy going, I am just not going to enforce the capital gains tax for a year.'' I mean, if he had done that, heads would have exploded all over Washington, DC.
Why would that have happened? He doesn't have the authority. The Constitution forbids it. We have a President, not a king. I don't want this President to act that way. I don't want a Republican President to act that way. Our Founding Fathers would be horrified if they were alive today and were watching what is happening with our Constitution and the growing power of the Presidency. This is dangerous, and it is demeaning to our democracy, and it simply must stop. I hope the President will remember his constitutionally mandated responsibility to enforce all laws, not just those laws that he chooses to enforce because he agrees with them.
Mr. Rice, thank you, sir, for drawing attention to this very important issue. Thank you for giving me a few moments to share this with you here on the floor of the Congress.