Monday, March 17, 2014

Working to Rein in Executive Overreach

Congressman Robert Hurt

Weekly Column 3/17/14


Our Founders crafted a Constitution with limited and enumerated powers for each of the three branches of government.  Unfortunately, the executive branch has undertaken actions that reach far beyond the powers granted to it.   Our Constitution prohibits the executive branch from choosing which laws it will enforce, yet these constitutional limits are being expressly ignored to the point where this Administration has effectively made law without congressional consent.  It is our job as members of Congress to hold the executive branch accountable so the rule of law may be upheld and the separation of powers may be maintained.


To that end, the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation last week to address this very important issue, and it is my hope that our colleagues in the Senate will join in our effort by approving them as well.


H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE (Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law) Act, would help re-establish the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution by putting in place a procedure to allow the House or Senate to authorize a lawsuit against the executive branch in the event that it fails to faithfully execute the law.


The second measure, H.R. 3973, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, promotes transparency in the federal government by requiring the Attorney General to report to Congress when federal officials circumvent the lawmaking process and implement their own policies or fail to enforce the law.


Both bills passed last week by the House were approved with bipartisan support, and that is the way it should be.  This should not be an issue that is divided among party lines; it is simply a matter of restoring the proper role of the executive to ensure the law of the land is faithfully executed. I look forward to following both bills closely as they make their way through the legislative process so that we may restore the balance of power to our government and preserve the foundation of our Constitution.


If you need any additional information, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Congressman Hurt spoke on the House Floor last week in support of H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE the Law Act.  You may view video of his remarks by clicking here.