During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech earlier this year, he intimated that he would not refrain from using executive orders or authority to help American families.
The intention Obama voiced during his speech has drawn a great deal of acrimony from Republican members of Congress, such as Sen. Mike Lee.
During a meeting of the Senate Judiciary committee Jan. 29, Lee condemned the president’s use of executive orders.
“When you look at the quality, not just the quantity but the quality, the nature of the executive orders that he has issued, he has usurped an extraordinary amount of authority within the executive branch,” Lee said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Lee, along with many other critics of the president, claim that he has over-utilized executive orders.
He has not.
I don’t buy the premise because it is ignorant to what executive orders actually are.
Executive orders are not law but they have the force of law – they are formal directions of the bureaucracy, according to the Congressional Research Service. I would argue that the use of executive orders is not his privilege, but his duty.
Obama’s usage of executive orders is actually comparatively low. His average number of executive orders issued per day is roughly one every 10 days – President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued eight every 10 days, according to NY Magazine.
Furthermore, the argument that many Republicans make, which is that the frequency of executive orders must coincide with an executive power grab, has little to no basis in reality.
FDR, again, had a filibuster-proof Senate for roughly his entire presidency and 300 seats in the House, according to the Clerk of the House of Representatives. He had a sympathetic Supreme Court, too, according to the University of Houston’s Department of History.
According to the National Archives, there has been no formal executive order issued by Obama pertaining to the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he has invoked executive authority to simply not enforce the mandate.
The employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act states that any employer of more than 50 employees must provide them health care prior to the end of 2013, according to healthcare.gov. After consultation with business leaders, which I will concede is a rather dubious prospect, the mandate was delayed.
What infuriated many Republicans was that he used executive authority to do it. Obama has interpreted his duty to execute the law, and to direct the bureaucracy, in line with his authority to delay the mandate.
Clearly, his Republican counterparts do not share that interpretation.
Kevin Patel, a sophomore political science and economics major from Cary, is an intern news reporter.