Over the past eight decades, Congress has gradually relinquished its lawmaking role and left it to the administrative state, said a conservative senator at a Capitol Hill event on Wednesday.
“Many Americans now feel that they are not in control of their own government,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said during an event hosted at the Federalist Society’s fifth annual Executive Branch Review Conference. “The administrative state is designed to be insulated from the will of the people.”
The Utah senator said that one way he is working to combat this phenomenon is through an initiative he has started called Article One Project.
“Our goal is to develop and advance and hopefully enact an agenda of structural reforms that will strengthen Congress by reclaiming the legislative powers that have been ceded to the executive branch,” Lee said.
Lee said that lawmakers are to blame for the shift in power.
“We are not, in fact, the victims, we are the perpetrators,” Lee said, adding:
We have done this willfully because it makes our job easier. It is a whole lot easier and less politically risky to have somebody else do the lawmaking than it is to do the lawmaking yourself.
There are several pieces of legislation, Lee said, that could help address executive overreach.
1.) REINS Act
The REINS Act, which has passed the House but has yet to pass the Senate, would make progress in regaining ground Congress has lost, Lee said.
This proposed law would require both congressional and presidential approval of major rules, which “have an economic impact of $100 million or more,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., wrote in a recent op-ed.
“Under this law, the specialized know-how within each agency would still be allowed to contribute to the regulatory process,” Lee said.
“But ultimately, Congress would be responsible for every major regulation that went into effect. This would make it easier for American voters to know who to blame for bad policies. As things currently stand, lawmakers can have it both ways.