Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley accused President Obama of dictatorial behavior in a floor statement Thursday, saying that his recess appointments were not the first acts he has taken to circumvent the constitutional system of checks and balances.
“President Obama’s decision to bypass the constitutional advice and consent of the Senate is not an isolated incident,” Grassley said, according to prepared remarks. “It is merely the latest escalation in a pattern of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people and the constitutional separation of powers.”
Obama appointed Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the Senate was in recess, after the Senate indicated that they would not confirm his nomination.
Grassley accused the president of “usurping legislative powers” by overriding and working around Congress when possible. This, Grassley argues, is in violation of the Constitution.
“Having had their rights violated by a king, our Founding Fathers intentionally put the power to make laws in the branch of government that is most directly accountable to the citizens,” the Iowa senator said.
Grassley pointed to Obama’s appointment of “czars” in issue areas, whom he said tread on the role of Congress, Obama’s “unilateral pursuit of climate change” and his use of the “Race to the Top” program, which Grassley said allowed him to impose the federal government’s rules on the states.
“On the other hand, when Congress has passed legislation the President doesn’t entirely agree with, he has announced, while signing them into law, that he won’t implement the parts he doesn’t like,” Grassley said. For example, Obama instructed the Department of Justice to not appeal court rulings against certain portions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Congress, Grassley said, needed to stop the president’s usurpation before it was too late.
“The more President Obama has gotten away with these little power grabs, the bolder he has become. Congress has not been effective in fighting this executive encroachment because Congress is not of one mind,” Grassley said. “Members of the President’s party are understandably reluctant to oppose him publicly. However, with this latest escalation, the time has come for Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to say ‘Enough is enough.’”
“I would ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to think hard about the precedent being set for the next Republican president,” Grassley warned. “Once the genie is out of the bottle, you are not likely to be able to get it back in.”