Speaker Paul Ryan announced part four of House Republicans’ “A Better Way” legislative agenda on Thursday — a comprehensive plan to reform the federal government in six key areas, which includes relieving domestic poverty and increasing national security.
The fourth plank of Ryan’s plan, however, addresses a more obscure yet important area of governmental reform: Congressional authority and its ability to curtail what some describe as executive over-reach.
Officially titled “A Better Way to Uphold Our Constitution”, Ryan along with his Republican colleagues in the House are proposing a set of initiatives to limit the authority of executive regulatory agencies by ceding more budget control and oversight responsibilities to Congress, and attaching sunset provisions to federal program and agency authorization statutes.
The plan also calls on Congress to pass all appropriations bills so federal spending is more easy to track, and to require more detailed government expenditure reports so the average taxpayer can see exactly what his or her money is being used to fund.
“I would argue this is the most important of our agenda,” Ryan told the media from National Statuary Hall at the Capitol Building. “Because we won’t be able to fix our safety net, we wouldn’t be able to rebuild our military or pare back the red tape until we put the people back into the driver’s seat.”
“Our problem is not so much that the presidency, under both parties, keeps breaking the rules — though it clearly does,” Ryan continued. “Our problem is that Congress, under both parties, keeps forfeiting the game — yielding to the executive branch, giving the president a blank check, not even bothering to read the fine print in some cases.”
One major consequence of the “Constitution” proposals set forth by Ryan would be a loss of autonomy that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has enjoyed since its inception in 1970, when President Nixon created the organization through an executive order.
By asserting its “Article I powers” and creating an authorizing statute for the agency, Congress would be able to change the EPA’s very objective and roll back environmental protection policies which have been strengthened under President Obama.
Next week, Speaker Ryan will announce parts five and six of the “A Better Way” initiative — constituting reform proposals for tax and health care policy.
Watch the entire news conference from Thursday morning on Capitol Hill below:
[Washington Post] [Photo courtesy RealClear Politics]