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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Executive Amnesty Prevention Act

December 4, 2014
These remarks were delivered during House floor debate on H.R. 5759 – Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act .

Executive Amnesty Prevention Act

December 4, 2014
Mr. Speaker:
    This question transcends the issue of illegal immigration.  The President’s act has crossed a very bright line that separates the American Republic – that prides itself on being a nation of laws and not of men – from those unhappy regimes whose rulers boast that the law is in their mouths.
    It is true that throughout our nation’s history, presidents have tested the limits of their authority.  But this is the first time a chief executive charged with the responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” has asserted the absolute power to nullify or change those laws by decree.  
    Under our Constitution, the President does not get to pick which laws to enforce and which to ignore.  He does not get to pick who must obey the law and who gets to live above it.  And he is forbidden from making laws himself.  “All legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
    Whether we choose to recognize it or not, this is a full-fledged Constitutional crisis.  If the precedent is allowed to stand, it will render meaningless the separation of powers and the checks and balances that comprise the fundamental architecture of our Constitution and that have preserved our freedom for 225 years.  If it stands, every future President -- Republican and Democrat – will cite it as justification for lawmaking by decree. 
    The measure before us is the first act of this Congress to restore the balance of powers within this government.  The President would be well advised to heed it before sterner measures are taken.
    The seizure of legislative authority by the executive proved fatal to the Roman Republic.  Now it is happening in our own time.  
    Let that not be the legacy of this administration.  For more than two centuries, Americans have successfully defended our Constitution history now calls upon this generation to do so again, which it does beginning with this measure today.
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