President Obama announced sweeping new executive orders on gun regulations Tuesday at the White House. Within moments of those remarks, Republican Congressional offices issued press statements criticizing Obama’s unilateral moves to tighten gun restrictions.
Left out of any Republican statements, however, was any promise to cut funding for Obama’s actions. No matter what the White House may propose, Congress still exercises the power of the purse.
Typical of Republican statements was a press release sent out by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Price said:
[T]he president is acting with a complete disregard for the Constitutional limits of his own authority. This is not a responsible or an effective means at protecting the safety and security of the American people. The Obama Administration should focus on the job of the Executive Branch which is to enforce the laws of the land, not rewrite them.
This isn’t to single out Price, as his sentiments were widely shared by a number of Republican offices issuing reactions to Obama’s directives. Price, however, is Chair of the House Budget Committee, which exercises broad authority over how the federal government spends tax dollars.
While the House Budget Committee doesn’t actually appropriate tax dollars, it does set overall parameters for how the government spends money. What is noteworthy about Price’s statement isn’t what he said, but rather what he didn’t say.
Price noted that President Obama’s actions went beyond his executive constitutional authority. He did not, however, promise to block the federal government from spending money to pursue Obama’s directives.
Presidents often try to push constitutional boundaries to assert more rights than they actually possess. The ultimate arbiter, however, is Congress, which controls how virtually every federal dollar is spent. Any President’s directive is just a piece of paper, unless Congress appropriates the money to enforce that directive.
This is especially true when that directive runs counter to existing federal law. A President may reallocate money within the executive branch to enforce existing law but is limited in what he can spend for regulations that are created out of executive cloth.
Read more: Breitbart