Congress Is Like A Crazy Uncle

The U.S. Supreme Court found that an administrative agency overstepped its authority in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.

Let’s put aside whether the rule issued by the EPA was a good thing for our environment or not (even though I believe that administrative policy was absolutely in the nation’s best interest). From the court’s perspective, the problem arose because the policy in question was an administrative policy made by the executive branch, and the executive branch should not make policy according to our constitution.

The fact that enforcing the EPA rule would have been monumentally expensive is immaterial. The real question is where did the agency receive the authority to promulgate such a rule?

The Court found that Congress did not give that authority to the administrative agency in this case. The executive branch does not have dictatorial power to do what it thinks is best in many instances. Their job is to enforce the law and not make it.

It is true that power will flow to the stronger party if there is a vacuum. For a very long time, Congress has been a political sideshow. It reminds me of an old uncle looking over the shoulders of the pinochle players to kibbutz on their playing ability. Uncle, like Congress, never seems to get into the game.

There are three branches of government. The executive branch needs the legislative branch to pass laws that clearly define what authority is given to the executive to when and how to enforce the legislated policy. You can’t legislate “we want clean air, and we leave it up to the executive to figure out what Congress means by that statement.” Congress needs to do their job for the process to work. What the Court conveyed is that Congress had better stop ignoring their duties.

Those who want to make it a Republican/Democrat problem are forgetting that, at some point, the other party will control the legislative and executive branches. This is about constitutional separation of powers and not politics. In an instant, Congress could require the executive to carry out its intent by passing a law regarding this and other environmental matters…and it should.

Congress is caught in political paralysis of its own making. The Democrats have sat there for two years and done nothing to further their agenda even though they are in the majority. Because of arcane rules such as the filibuster, the body is a eunuch. None of their procedural rules make for a better legislative branch.

Some of the paralysis is the result of the voters not giving clear direction. We are a fifty-fifty country, and each side wants the other to fail. The most vocal voters are adamant that compromise is bad and that absolutes should prevail. This is a contributing factor in our government not working.

While I may agree that women should have the option to have an abortion, that climate change is an absolute certainty, and on the need for sensible gun regulation, Congress has provided no meaningful legislation for any of these immediate and other pressing national problems. What the Court is saying is get off your keister, Congress, and do your job.

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Thomas F Campenni

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manger in New York City.