Jan 21 2016
WASHINGTON — Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) brought U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch before his Senate Subcommittee on Wednesday to make it clear to the Obama administration that he and other conservatives in the legislative branch are pushing back hard against the President’s executive actions on gun control, which they believe to be unconstitutional.
“It is clear to me that the American people are fearful that President Obama is eager to strip them of their Second Amendment rights. The Second Amendment is not a suggestion,” Shelby intoned. “It is an individual right protected in the Bill of Rights that has been recognized by the Supreme Court.”
Shelby said he has “two main reasons” why he is especially concerned with President Obama’s history of executive actions:
First, President Obama is far too willing to end run Congress through executive action.
The President has said that he believes that when Congress doesn’t act the way he wants us to, then he must act alone. Our Constitution won’t allow for this kind of unilateral action, and the American people will not stand for it.
Whether through executive amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants or increased gun control measures, the President has unwisely acted alone. However, what the President fails to remember is that we have a system of checks and balances – a system that was created to ensure that power was not concentrated in a single branch of the federal government. The President has ignored the Founders’ system and has accelerated the use of executive fiat to an alarming new level.
Secondly, none of the executive actions that President Obama has proposed would have prevented the recent tragic events in our nation.
Whether it is a terrorist attack or a single gun crime, I firmly believe that those responsible should be held accountable and that we must work to prevent it from happening again. However, as we have seen time and again, this President uses tragic events to push his political agenda.
I believe that he is more interested in grandstanding and engaging in anti-gun theatrics than actually doing the work necessary to protect this country.
Shelby is uniquely positioned to push back on the gun control executive actions in particular, by virtue of his position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), which has purvey of the Justice Department’s budget.
Historically, agencies are subject to the direction of the subcommittee chairmen when it comes to how they spend the money they are appropriated. Because the Justice Department will play a central role in implementing the President’s gun control actions, Senator Shelby and his subcommittee could have the opportunity to deny them the funds appropriated by Congress to put the orders into effect.
There is plenty of precedent for this. In fact, this would not even be the first time in the past several months that Shelby’s subcommittee has blocked an Obama administration priority using this process.
Last year, the subcommittee blocked a budgeting request by the President that would have spent $50 million in taxpayer funds on lawyers for unaccompanied minors immigrating to the United States illegally.
President Obama had issued an executive order allowing young illegal immigrants to be considered for deportation protections. He then came behind that with a request for funds to pay lawyers to guide the minors through the process, giving Shelby the opportunity to step in and shut it down.
The system of checks and balances America’s Founders put in place gives Congress the power of the purse. Shelby’s subcommittee has used that power as intended to block Obama administration priorities in the past. They may have now a chance to do it again.
“Madam Attorney General, the Department is on notice,” Shelby told Lynch on Wednesday. “This Subcommittee will have no part in undermining the Constitution and the rights it protects.”