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Sun May 12, 2019, 10:19 AM

Congress isn't just a co-equal branch. We're first among equals.

Constitutional crisis looms, preceded by constitutional illiteracy and confusion, which now hang like a thick fog over Washington. President Trump’s administration refuses to cooperate with any congressional investigations he disfavors, drawing a curtain over the executive branch and blockading our oversight work: His treasury secretary has declined to produce the president’s tax returns, as demanded by the House Ways and Means Committee under federal statute. His attorney general has refused to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and the evidence underlying his findings, and he has ordered Justice Department official John Gore not to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee (without even bothering to assert a legal privilege). Trump is suing House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) for seeking documents from one of the president’s accounting firms. And the White House has directed former counsel Donald McGahn and other witnesses not to appear before Congress. “Congress shouldn’t be looking anymore,” the president-king proclaims. “This is all. It’s done.”

Oversight isn’t the only area where the president thinks he can supersede and supplant Congress. He believes he can declare a national security emergency when lawmakers reject funding for his border wall — and then reprogram money Congress has appropriated for other purposes to build the wall behind our backs. And despite the fact that his main job is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” as the Constitution’s Article II provides, he routinely sabotages the effective administration of the Affordable Care Act (by starving recruitment efforts and promoting “junk” plans) and encourages government officials at the border to violate the law on asylum seekers. All this falls outside of his constitutional power.

[Trump just gave the House a very good reason to look at his tax returns]

Whenever the president commits a new offense against the Constitution, one of my Democratic colleagues will inevitably rise on the House or Senate floor and implore the president to remember that we are a co-equal branch of government. This is a straightforward and intuitive concept: When our kids were little, my wife and I taught them that the separation of powers is like rock-paper-scissors. Sometimes this branch ends up on top, sometimes that branch wins — but the three have equal weight. This analogy appeals to our sense of fairness, and there is a kernel of truth in the idea that each branch has its limits: Congress cannot pass laws that violate the Constitution and will be checked by the Supreme Court if it does; the president can recommend laws to Congress but cannot force their passage; and the courts interpret what the law means when there are conflicting views.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/congress-isnt-just-a-co-equal-branch-were-first-among-equals/2019/05/09/e3caa552-7206-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?utm_term=.c7e5fcab7fed

Jamie Raskin (D-MD) scorches Trump's attempt to make himself dictator and the repukes' enabling of him.

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Reply Congress isn't just a co-equal branch. We're first among equals. (Original post)
meow2u3 May 2019 OP
malaise May 2019 #1
Fullduplexxx May 2019 #2
Igel May 2019 #3
LiberalFighter May 2019 #4
procon May 2019 #5

Response to meow2u3 (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2019, 10:25 AM

1. Get the to the greatest page

The Con is going down - watch the ride

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Response to meow2u3 (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2019, 10:26 AM

2. It is said they are equal but it doesnt seem like it. Scotus has too much power

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Response to meow2u3 (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2019, 10:51 AM

3. Part of the problem is Congress.

While there are things that are just executive or judicial--and Congress has a tendency to assume that they're the royal family and there is no actual king to overrule any of them at times, so there are hundreds of de facto kings--very often the problem is what Congress has done.

So the ACA was largely left unwritten. The executive branch was charged with writing the regs for it, things that probably should have been legislated. At the time this was discussed and it was considered necessary in order to get the minimum number of votes necessary to pass a set of controversial provisions in the law. Even when it came to money, the assumption was that the administration would cough up millions of dollars that were assumed necessary but not allocated. Why did they do that? Because they needed the fiction that it was "budget neutral" against the budget prediction that was originally proposed--it might have additional costs, but it would cost more above those additions, and some Congressional votes depended on not falsifying that fiction. Even if it meant taking student loan savings and using the sale of some timber by-product as part of the health-care savings that would fund the ACA. Everybody was convinced that the arc of history had bent appropriately so that the proper people would stay in power, so the regs and the funding were in the bag. He's doing what the laws allow. It's like Obama and the DOMA or immigration law: Obama undermined both sets of laws because there was space in the text for him to legally do things, even though it's not likely that they'd pass an "original intent" or "original spirit" of the law test. Apparently faithfully upholding the law means "enforcing above and beyond the letter" or "seeking to undermine", depending not on the law's status but on what's politically desired at the time. The laws are a Rorschach test of sorts, not a legal codex.

Or take the national emergency legislation. We have a lot of national emergencies currently in place. We've parodied standard practice in requiring that a "national emergency" be some sort of invasion or widespread problem inside the US, but that's either a out of ignorance or through intentional deception. While some might involve disease or something else domestic, few do. It takes 60 seconds or less to see the range of them, how they're used, and how they're abused. You'd expect Congressfolk to have done at least that amount of footwork, or to have farmed it out to staffers if it was too onerous. There's no good follow up to that sentence, so paragraph break.

Certain sanctions against Iran are still imposed (and changed from time to time) under an emergency from 1979. There are sanctions still in place and enforced against some Zimbabwe ex-leaders long since out of power over a food crisis that ended over a decade ago. It's hard to argue that Bunyoni and Bizimana constitute real threats of violence and mayhem in the US that could upset the national order in the US and create chaos and disruption, but for the last 4 years they've been (half of) the subject of a national emergency; the known dangers to US civil tranquility and the (US) general good, Ndayirukire and Niyombare, are the other half. If you missed it, they were responsible in some sense for unrest in Burundi in 2015. You make "national emergency" and suspension of certain rights permissible for those cases because the law is written so broadly, you own the consequences. Note that a lot of people had no problem with using that law in ways not originally intended.

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Response to meow2u3 (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2019, 12:44 PM

4. The Founders made Article I about the Legislative Branch and not the Executive.

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Response to meow2u3 (Original post)

Sun May 12, 2019, 01:05 PM

5. Article I Powers.

Article I of the Constitution is the top of the heap. This gives the Legislative Branch, the House of Representatives and the Senate, which together form the United States Congress, the highest authority to perform their required duties.

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