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Homeland Security funding and the imminent Constitutional crisis

constitution-burning

Whether by ignorance or design a large number of GOP members in the House and Senate are misrepresenting what is a stake with the funding of the Department of Homeland security. The issue has nothing to do with the operations of an agency where well over 80% of it will stay on the job regardless of what action the Congress takes. The issue is not a national security concern. The FBI, CIA, NSA, and state and local police will be unaffected. You have to either be a moron or think that everyone else is a moron to claim that this will affect national security in any way. What is at stake here is the very concept of separation of powers and the fate of the Constitution.

The slippery slope.

If one wants to date the beginning of the end of the Republic, a good place to start would be June 11, 1946 and the signing of the Administrative Procedures Act. This act gives Executive Branch agencies the right to promulgate regulations that are never approved by Congress yet have the force of law. You can go to jail and be fined for violating regulations that simply have no basis in law. When the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers decide that the mud hole in your backyard is part of an inland waterway or a vital way-station for migratory game birds you will find yourself in a lot of trouble if you fill it.

Congress frets over this and they even passed a law in 1996 called the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to express its outrage while doing nothing. Under this law Congress can overturn an agency regulation by majority vote in both houses and it requires the president to sign the action. If he doesn’t sign, then they can attempt to override his veto. The problems here are obvious. Rarely does an agency attempt rulemaking without presidential approval. Plus the law simply bakes in the idea that the federal bureaucracy, not “lawmakers,” make the law. Since its inception the law has been used six times… it has succeeded once.

Immigration and Naturalization are Congressional functions.

The Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, gives Congress the authority to establish rules for naturalization. Logically, it follows that in order to be naturalized you have to arrive here. What Obama has done is go directly at Congressional authority and dared them to do anything about it. Once Congress caves on this black letter issue it will be increasingly difficult to draw the line anywhere.

More abuses on the horizon.

Yesterday, White House spokesgoober Josh Earnest said that Obama may just change the way the tax code is enforced if Congress won’t raise taxes. Via Twitchy:

Reporter: “Bernie Sanders … has suggested that the White House could raise as much as $100 billion through using executive action to close corporate loopholes. If your plans kind of run into resistance with Republicans on Capitol Hill, is that an idea that you guys would embrace?”

Earnest: “Well, for any executive actions along those lines, I’d refer you to the Treasury Department, but the president has certainly not indicated any reticence about using his executive authority to try to advance an agenda that benefits middle-class Americans … The president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I’m not in a position to talk about this in any detail at this point, but the president’s very interested in this avenue, generally.”

The BATFE is now in the process of banning a particular ammunition… one that has been legal in the United States for decades… because it is mostly used in really scary guns:

White House press secretary Josh Earnest Monday defended a proposal by the Obama administration to ban ammunition commonly used with the AR-15 rifle, saying the push to prohibit the bullets is a “common-sense” way to protect law enforcement officials.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last week proposed to ban 5.56 mm (.223) M855 “lightgreen tip” ammunition, arguing it could pierce bulletproof vests used by law enforcement officials.

Commonsense despite the fact that your typical law enforcement officer has a greater chance of dying DUI than being shot with this ammo.

Constitutional crisis.

If Congress is unwilling to protect its Constitutional prerogatives on the issue of immigration, one is dumbfounded at how it wishes to operate at all. If it can’t withhold funding to a very small part of an agency that is being used to violate federal law, can Congress really use the “power of the purse” at all? If Congress refuses to stand firm on this minor issue we have entered the era where a president with support from a minority of one house of Congress can effectively do as he wishes and force the entire Congress to go along.

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