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Conservatives give a lot of lip service to the Constitution, but too few actually read it or know what it says. While many focus on the admittedly important Bill of Rights, the meat of the Constitution outlines the basic functions of government, including the checks and balances designed to keep tyranny from America's door. It is respect for these checks and balances that has driven some lawmakers to launch the Article I Project, an initiative aimed at restoring the separation of powers and using Congress to rein in the excesses of the executive branch.
Article I of the Constitution specifies the powers and duties of the legislative branch, as distinct from the president and the judiciary. It is in the spirit of these powers that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has emerged as the prime mover behind the project. Lee recognizes that, over the years, Congress has ceded much of its authority to executive branch agencies and the president. Each of the last several administrations has used executive orders and regulators at agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education and Food and Drug Administration to effectively make law without the benefit of congressional oversight.
The Article I Project is defined by a set of four guiding principles designed to guide any and all legislative products that may emerge in the coming months. These are:
To reassert the "power of the purse" to Congress by reforming the budget process.
To put an end to governing by crisis and the legislative "cliffs" that invariably lead to bad policy.
To enact regulatory reforms, such as the REINS Act, which requires congressional approval of all major regulations.
To reform the laws that allow the president and cabinet agencies to ignore or rewrite laws passed by Congress.