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Nate Jackson / Jan. 14, 2016

A Way to Slow Executive Overreach

Trying holding up Obama’s appointments.

“Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, fiercely, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security,” Barack Obama told us Tuesday night in a civics lesson meant to browbeat everyone into agreeing with him.

So how do we use the separation of powers he mentioned to slow the unilateral advance of his agenda by executive fiat? Genevieve Wood of The Heritage Foundation has a strategy: “Though Congress has given up much of its power when it comes to using its ‘power of the purse’ to stop executive overreach, there is one power it still holds, and there is absolutely no reason not to use it. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, popularly known as ‘Advice and Consent,’ requires the Senate to approve all presidential appointments of cabinet officials, ambassadors, and federal judges. The day of the Senate ‘consenting’ and following a go-along get-along strategy on such matters should be over.”

While this wouldn’t cause much trouble for judicial appointments — 91% of those seats are filled — there are more than 100 key administration jobs being held by an acting deputy if not by an empty chair. (And we all know how much Obama likes empty chairs.) It’s not uncommon for this to happen to some extent in the final year of a president’s second term, but Obama’s vacancies are more numerous than his predecessors’. Republicans shouldn’t hesitate to use any tool at their disposal to make Obama’s final year as unproductive as possible.

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