Last week I had the opportunity to join with Congresswoman Mia Love to host an Article I Project discussion panel at the University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics. In addition to the forum at the U, I joined with President Matthew Holland, Heritage Foundation Economist Steven Moore, and former Congressman Ernest Istook for an A1P discussion at the UVU Center for Constitutional Studies. These schools were fantastic hosts for the A1P forums and I appreciate the many students, faculty, and community members who joined me for the discussion.
The authors of the Constitution intended Congress to be the first among the federal government’s three co-equal branches. Endowed with the power to legislate, tax, spend, and oversee the weaker Executive and Judicial branches—while simultaneously being held to tighter public accountability—Congress was meant to be the driving force behind federal policy making.
Today, the vast majority of federal “laws”—upwards of 95 percent—are not passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president as the Constitution directs; they are imposed unilaterally by unelected Executive Branch bureaucrats.
The premise of the Article I Project is simple: the federal government is broken, and congressional weakness is to blame.
The purpose of A1P is to develop, advance, and ultimately enact an agenda of structural reforms to strengthen Congress by reclaiming its constitutional legislative powers that today are being improperly exercised by the Executive Branch.
Specifically, A1P will focus on restoring congressional power in four key areas at the core of Washington’s broken status quo:
1. Reclaiming Congress’s power of the purse
2. Reforming legislative “cliffs”
3. Reasserting congressional authority over regulations and regulators
4. And finally, curbing executive discretion
At a time when our political system in Washington is held in low regard by most Americans, it may sound bizarre to talk about re-empowering Congress—one of the most distrusted institutions in the country. But it needs to be done.
It’s not because we’re smart, it’s not because we’re good looking, and it’s not because we’re particularly talented. It’s because we work for the American people and can be replaced every two or six years. That’s the only reason. Congress is the only branch of government directly accountable to the people.
Hinckley Institute of Politics A1P Forum
UVU Center for Constitutional Studies A1P Forum