Executive Orders

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999

Presidential Power Grab
by U.S. Representative Ron Paul (Texas)

Do you want our military to be moved under the United Nationsí command without congressional approval? Do you know that a change in policy now requires our military to absorb a nuclear first strike and only retaliate afterward? Representative Jack Metcalf served in the U.S. Army, and I was an Air Force flight surgeon, and as members of the U.S. House of Representatives we think these are terrible policies

Unfortunately, Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD 25) takes the matter of U.S. troops in U.N. operations completely out of the hands of Congress. And PDD 60 replaces the proven deterrence of our launch-on-warning policy with a new policy requiring the U.S. military to take a hit the Pentagon brass will probably know is coming, retaliating afterward. PDD 25 and PDD 60 are classified and the exact texts have not been made available even when requested by members of Congress, but from the "summary" of each PDD we have been allowed to see and sources familiar with the actual documents, that is what they appear to say.

And we donít want the White House to implement international treaties that are bad for America. By law, the president must submit international agreements to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent, and two-thirds of the senators must concur. Some treaties, like the so-called "treaty on global warming," are so costly and unfair to Americans that President Clinton is actually afraid to submit them to the U.S. Senate out of fear the senators wonít go along.

In fact, President Clinton wrote Executive Order 13107 (EO 13107) so he could implement such treaties on his ownÖand we donít like that either. It certainly is unconstitutional.

Something is awfully wrong with these executive orders (PDDs are really just a fancy category of EOs). True, executive orders have a place in running the routine business of the executive branch and seeing that laws passed by Congress are duly executed. It is a presidentís expansion of that limited authority in order to do things he could never get accomplished through the legitimate legislative process that has given us the crises we see today. Today, if President Clinton wants a law he knows the peoplesí duly-elected representatives wonít pass, all he does is write an EO or PDD and it "becomes law." Isnít that what an old-fashioned king would doÖignore the constitutional limits on his authority and rule by edict?

Some of us have had enough. Thatís why Jack Metcalf and I recently introduced H.R. 2655 in the U.S. House of Representatives. We call the bill The Separation of Powers Restoration Act, and if it passes, it will stop this president and future presidents from trying to run our country as though they had been elected king.

Itís a mistake, though, to place all the blame for this abuse of power on any single president. Congress and the courts have stood by while the misuse of executive orders has grown to gigantic proportions. Thatís why succeeding presidents have been tempted to see how much more they can get away with, until there are now over 13,000 executive orders on the books! Congress just isnít paying attention.

When Congress is asleep at the switch, itís up to the public to send them a wake-up call. In order for Representative Metcalf and I to get our legislation brought to the floor of the House for debate, we are asking every citizen who shares our concern to contact their own representative and ask him or her to become a co-sponsor. Thanks to the Internet, thatís a lot easier than it used to be. Just go to www.ExecutiveOrders.org and follow the simple instructions to see if your congressman is already a co-sponsor of H.R. 2655, and if not, press a button to tell them to get on board. If you donít have Internet access at home or at the office, try your local library.

What the president is doing with these EOs and PDDs is just un-American, thereís no other way to put it. A chief complaint American colonists made against King George before the Revolutionary War was that he took powers that were not rightfully his, and then as king, used those powers to the disadvantage of the people. How is that different from what the president is doing now? If you go to www.ExecutiveOrders.org and find your representative is not a co-sponsor of H.R. 2655, will you ask him that question?

Itís time to send Congress a wake-up call!

Ron Paul, M.D., is a member of Congress from Texas.