Thursday, February 26, 2015

Morgan Griffith on the Appropriations Process

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"A Government of Laws, Not Men

As you may know, the ‘appropriations process’ is the process that appropriates funding for government activities such as national defense, homeland security, education, etc.  While my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives worked the last several years to pass appropriations bills in regular order, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid shielded Senators from hard votes and protected the President from having to sign or veto such bills.

And this year, now-Minority Leader Reid and his Democrat colleagues, at the time of the writing of this column, have voted three times to block the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill passed by the House on January 14.  They have repeatedly obstructed even debating this bill in order to protect President Obama’s actions on immigration, much of which this House-passed bill would roll back.

In our House bill, the President’s questionable actions have been defunded.  Further, the Judicial branch has questioned his authority and, of course, the President himself previously acknowledged at least 22 times that he did not have the authority to take the actions he took on immigration.  The court must determine if the actions are unconstitutional.  But I think – without his having authority – his dictates are unlawful, and that Congress is obligated to exercise its prerogative of the purse as an equal branch of government.

Notwithstanding clear action in the House challenging his authority and a court questioning his authority, the Senate Democrats’ obstruction comes despite some Senators having publicly stated their concerns about the President’s immigration actions.

Sadly, no end is in sight as of the writing of this column.  According to The Hill, "Another vote – and another filibuster – are expected…as a [DHS] shutdown looms at the end of the month."

I have previously taken issue with the modern interpretation of the Senate filibuster rule, doing so in columns dated: November 16, 2012; September 22, 2014; November 3, 2014; and December 15, 2014.  Again, I urge Senate Republicans to revert to the historical filibuster rule.

Regardless, I and 169 other House Republicans recently sent a letter to Minority Leader Reid, demanding that he stop the obstructionism and allow the DHS appropriations bill to be debated.  "President Obama’s actions are tilting the scales of our government in the executive’s favor, threatening to unravel our system of checks and balances and imperiling all our liberties,” the letter reads.  And, “The House of Representatives has acted decisively to defend the Constitution from this clear and present danger by voting to defund the president’s executive actions.  For the sake of our nation, our two bodies must stand together on a bipartisan basis.  But in order to do this, the Senate Democrat caucus must cease to play politics with the Constitution."

The beauty of our system of government is that when one branch overreaches, the other two can work to bring the balance of power back into alignment.  As the saying goes, our government is one of laws, and not of men.  This debate is not about whether you like the President’s immigration policy.  It’s about whether you like the rule of law.

A federal judge recently issued an injunction temporarily blocking President Obama’s actions on immigration.  The Administration’s Justice Department is appealing the ruling of the court, but two branches of government remain: the courts should make decisions to return the balance of power, and Congress must use its power of the purse."