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Congress may have the "power of the purse," but the President holds the strings

Published in Blog on July 18, 2017 by Convention Of States Project

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The House of Representatives may technically have the “power of the purse,” but the President holds the strings.

The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday that just nine executive orders from President Obama cost the American taxpayers $31 billion. An order creating a new repayment plan for student loans, for example, will cost $15.4 billion. Delaying the employer health mandate under Obamacare cost taxpayers $12 billion, and changing cost sharing provisions for Obamacare insurers cost $3 billion. New overtime rules will cost hundreds of millions, and additional background checks for firearms transfers will cost $5.5 million.

“‘I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone … I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball.’ That was President Obama in 2014 pledging to use executive action to implement his policy priorities,” writes Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute. “The American people elected Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate and President Obama responded through regulation, rather than working with Congress on legislation.”

The Founders gave the power of the purse to the House as a means of separating and balancing power within our federal government. But Supreme Court decisions have unilaterally destroyed the Founders’ original intent, allowing the President to circumvent Congress as both a lawmaker and money-spender.

A Convention of States can restore the Constitution’s checks on the executive branch. Article V of the Constitution allows the states to call a convention for the purpose of proposing constitutional amendments. Eight states have already passed resolutions calling for a Convention of States to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, mandate term limits for federal officials, and, most importantly, limit D.C.’s power and jurisdiction. An amendment banning or reducing the use of executive orders falls under this third category, and it would go a long way towards ending the President’s unilateral spending of taxpayer funds.


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