America’s Success Depends on the Separation of Powers

Our Constitution is a miraculous document, amazing in its foresight and capacity to deal with the dramatic changes in the 227 years since its adoption.

During the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, there was a lot of disagreement among the delegates.  But, there was one major issue on which all involved agreed — the legislative power is the most important power of any government.  It’s why the Framers addressed legislative power first in Article I of the Constitution.

The power to legislate is literally the power to change the lives and livelihoods of the people.  Having formed a nation in opposition to offensive laws from a distant, authoritarian government in which they had no representation and no say, the Framers knew that, to be legitimate, the government’s power had to be derived from the consent of the people.  And so the Framers vested the greatest power, the legislative power, in the body most accountable to the people – Congress.

The idea is as eloquent as it is simple.

If the American people don’t like the laws that Congress is passing, they can vote those disagreeable legislators out every two years.  It has happened numerous times in our nation’s history, as early as the Alien and Sedition Acts, which doomed the Federalist Party, and as recently as 2010, when the American people showed their displeasure with Obamacare by handing the legislative power back to Republicans.

At the same time, the Framers of the Constitution had endured the failures of the Articles of Confederation, when the legislature had little power to enforce the laws they wrote.  And so, in Article II, the Framers created an executive branch, and charged it with enforcing – not writing – the laws.

That basic separation of powers – one branch to write the laws, one to enforce the laws, and another (the Judiciary) to interpret legal questions – has proven to be incredibly successful in the subsequent 227 years.

However, our nation’s future success is dependent upon our ability to preserve this separation of powers.  While this balance has been threatened from time to time, the assault we have seen in recent years is unprecedented. You don’t need to look far – the burden of executive overreach is felt in communities big and small across the United States. Here in Southwest Ohio, I hear from business owners, teachers, and farmers who are finding it difficult to navigate the red tape coming out of Washington, D.C. These days, nearly every business owner I meet shares with me their concerns about the looming overtime rule from the Department of Labor, which will increase costs dramatically, forcing many of them to cut back on hours and wages for their employees.  Some are even contemplating reducing benefits or letting valued employees go, as they are worried about their ability survive these increased costs.

House Republicans are fighting back and working to ensure that the legislative power remains in the hands of the people who know best – you. We are your elected representatives, your voice, in Congress, and you know better than a bureaucrat in D.C. how to live your lives, raise your families, and run your businesses.

That’s why we’re offering a Better Way. We put forth bold policy solutions to curb the lawmaking authority of federal agencies and reform the regulatory process, including regular reauthorization of all federal programs, and termination of those no longer necessary.

To make sure that the executive branch actually follows the law as written, we are in the process of implementing more robust oversight of federal agencies.  We also need to regularly pass all appropriations bills, so we can more effectively use the power of the purse to force the executive branch to follow the law.

By taking these common-sense steps, we can restore the separation of powers that our Founding Fathers believed critical to the success of our nation, and make certain that laws are written only by the elected representatives of the American people.