FreedomWorks’ Bill of the Month for November 2018: Resolution for the Article One Restoration Act, H.Res. 330

FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our bill of the month for November 2018 is the resolution for the Article One Restoration Act, H.Res. 330, sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). The resolution, which is cosponsored by such freedom fighters as Reps. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), would direct House Committees to review laws within their jurisdiction to eliminate executive branch overreach in applying these laws. This type of congressional oversight of the executive is much needed.

Although the legislative branch is vested by the Constitution in Article I with the exclusive power to make laws and the executive branch with carrying them out, the executive branch over time has come to play an ever-increasing role in policy-making through the rules it issues to carry out laws. Frequently, these rules overstep the bounds of what Congress intended the laws to do, as was often the case during the Obama administration.

This is problematic for many reasons, the first of which is that overreaching rulemaking in practice allows the executive branch to make law, which is not allowed for under the Constitution. Although Chevron deference, a doctrine established by the Supreme Court in 1984, holds that when a statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue at hand, the court must defer to the interpretation of the agency as long as that interpretation is “reasonable.”

This has opened up the door for executive agencies to take advantage of latitude in rulemaking, which has negative consequences of federal government overreach into Americans’ lives. Rep. Davidson’s bill would attack this problem at its roots, by requiring committees, within six months of adopting the resolution, to review laws within their jurisdiction and submit changes that would eliminate excessive executive branch discretion in the application of those laws.

Those committees directed to do so under the resolution are Agriculture, Armed Services, Budget, Energy and Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Natural Resources, Oversight and Government Reform, Science, Space, and Technology, Small Business, Transportation and Infrastructure, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means, and Intelligence.

A comprehensive check by Congress on the executive branch in the area of executing laws is long overdue. Time and time again, we see examples of executive overreach interpreting Congress’ laws in absurd ways. For example, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule passed in 2015 by the Obama administration to apply the Clean Water Act of 1972 grossly overstepped its bounds by classifying such waters as seasonal pools, small streams, and other small areas of water or wetlands on private property as “navigable waters” subject to federal jurisdiction under the law.

Thankfully, the Trump administration has moved to repeal WOTUS and narrow this definition back to a reasonable application of “navigable waters,” but there are infinitely many more examples of such egregious overreach that have yet to be taken care of. Rep. Davidson’s resolution would ensure that these are addressed as well.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of this resolution is that it would, following recommendations from each committee, require the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to report legislation including all of the recommendations it receives, titled the Article One Restoration Act. This ensures that the resolution is not just a study of executive overreach for the sake of knowing about it, but that it actually has real potential to right the wrongs of this overreach by putting the recommended changes in legislation. It allows members to push for a vote on the reforms and pass them to reclaim for Congress the Article I power to make laws as it sees fit, not how unelected bureaucrats choose.

Congress must have the will to stand up to the executive branch bureaucracy that has twisted its laws beyond their intent and shield the American people from improper and in many cases unconstitutional executive overreach. The bureaucracy is vast and its reach is seemingly infinite, but H.Res. 330 provides a fantastic avenue to addressing and ultimately reining in its power, by returning to the legislative body the lawmaking powers that the framers of the Constitution so carefully vested to Congress.