Speaking at the White House Rose Garden on Monday, President Obama said that because of the House’s refusal even to consider last year’s Senate bill on immigration reform (informally called “pathway to citizenship”), he is going to do it on his own:
I don’t prefer executive action. I prefer permanent fixes to the problems we face. I would love nothing more [than] for bipartisan legislation to be put on my desk so I can sign it. I take executive action only when we have a serious problem and when Congress chooses to do nothing.
In this situation, the failure to pass a darn bill is bad for security, the economy, and the future. So while I will continue to push House Republicans to drop the excuses and act. Americans cannot wait forever.
This is a familiar refrain from the president, who said during Saturday’s weekly press conference,
Republicans in Congress keep blocking or voting down almost every serious idea. This year alone they’ve said no to raising the minimum wage, no to fair pay, no to student loan reform, no to extending unemployment insurance.
This obstruction keeps the system rigged for those at the top and rigged against the middle class. And as long as they insist on doing it, I’ll keep taking actions on my own — like the actions I’ve already taken to attract new jobs, lift workers’ wages and help students pay off their loans. I’ll do my job.
All of this despite the lack of any specific grant of power in the U.S. Constitution to do any such thing. The power granted to the executive comes from Article II, Section I: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America” and in Article I, Section 3: “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
However, since the very first presidency, presidents have used executive orders (EOs) to clarify, implement, and, over the last 10 decades, to expand greatly the powers increasingly granted by intention or by default to the president by the legislative branch. The current president no doubt takes great comfort that his 182 EOs, so far, do not the reach the heights (or the depths) achieved by past progressive presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt (1,081), Woodrow Wilson (1,803), or Franklin D. Roosevelt (3,522). On the other hand, Obama’s second term doesn’t end until January 2017.
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