Rep. Gowdy of South Carolina speaks to the issue of enforcement of federal laws and the President’s cavalier approach to law.
“I want us to talk as colleagues, because our foundational document gave us as the House unique powers and responsibilities. We run every two years because they intended for us to be closest to the people. The President was given different duties and powers. The President was given the duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, so my question, Mr. Speaker, is what does that mean to you?”
“We know the President can veto a bill for any reason or for no reason,” he continued. “We know the President can refuse to defend the constitutionality of a statute – even one that he signs into law. We know the President can issue pardons for violations of the very laws that we pass, and we know that the President has prosecutorial discretion as evidenced and used through his U.S. attorneys.
Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of power. What are we to do when that amount of power is not enough? What are we to do when this president, or any president, decides to selectively enforce a portion of a law and ignore other portions of that law? What do we do, Mr. Speaker, regardless of motivation, when a president nullifies our vote by failing to faithfully execute the law?”
“You know, in the oath that brand-new citizens take, it contains six different references to ‘the law.’ If it’s good enough for us to ask brand-new citizens to affirm their devotion to the law, is it too much to ask that the President do the same?
If a president can change some laws, can he change all laws? Can he change election laws? Can he change discrimination laws? Are there any laws, under your theory, that he actually has to enforce?
What is our recourse, Mr. Speaker? What is our remedy?”
“Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives does not exist to pass suggestions. We do not exist to pass ideas. We make law. And while you are free to stand and clap when any president comes into this hallowed chamber and promises to do it with or without you, I will never stand and clap when any president – no matter whether he’s your party or mine – promises to make us a constitutional anomaly and an afterthought. We make law.”