Email #247: “uphold our constitutional framework”?

I wrote to you previously about the EPA’s attempt to delay implementing a regulation for two years, a delay which a court struck down as unlawful because the delay violates the regulation development process. I now read that other agencies in the executive branch are acting similarly.

The Labor Department has delayed a rule requiring financial advisers to put consumers’ interests before their own, and the Food and Drug Administration has delayed a rule requiring restaurants to list calories on their menus.

The Interior Department also issued a two-year delay on rules limiting methane in wells. The GOP-controlled Senate had attempted to revoke the law requiring the regulation, but three Republican Senators joined Democrats to preserve it. That means the Interior Department’s delay is a way for the GOP-controlled executive branch to change the law without Congress.

Although you said the morning after your re-election that you “will work hard checking executive overreach,” you have not responded to the Trump administration’s overreaching abuse of these delays. You also said in May: “I take Congress’s role to uphold our constitutional framework of three co-equal branches of government very seriously. Congress and the American public should not and cannot allow one branch to assume too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.”

Why then are you not challenging the executive branch now? I realize you might personally agree with the individual policies that the delays support, but that does not excuse you from carrying out your duties as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. If anything, it raises the ethical bar. A failure to check the executive branch now reveals your earlier statements to be false. Did your concern for the Constitution stop when a Republican entered the White House?

Although my continuing research into your actions and inaction reveal startlingly consistent hypocrisy, I would still like to believe that at some point you will recognize the damage you are doing to the principles that you claim to uphold. I would like to believe that you are guided by more than political expediency. I would like to believe that you are an American before you are a Republican.

Opposing executive delays of legislative laws is an opportunity for you to define yourself in your own conservative terms and not as a Trump administration yes-man. Doing so now would also establish your credibility later when you are faced with far more serious choices regarding the President’s future in the White House.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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