Congress at Fault for Allowing Presidents to Grab Power

Taken from “Our Founding Documents” a Lynn Woolley Show pamphlet designed by Jody Donaldson.

U.S. Presidents keep getting more powerful, and Congress keeps letting them get away with it.

Here’s the latest:  Joe Biden has declared that 100,000 DACA, young illegal aliens, are eligible for Obamacare at taxpayer expense.  Constitutionally, he can’t do that without a bill from Congress.  But he just did it.  Is Congress trying to stop him?  Apparently, not.

Biden also decided to pause an arms shipment to Israel.  He forgave student loans.  He’s opened the border.  Trump repurposed funds for his border wall without congressional authorization.  Presidents have done this going back to Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Presidents do it because Congress can’t or won’t stop them, even though it means ceding power to the executive branch.

Random Samplings is brought to you by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

I’ve long wondered why members of Congress have no backbone when it comes to separation of powers.

Congress (the Legislative Branch) makes laws. Period.  That’s what the Constitution says.  Rulemaking notwithstanding, the FCC, the FEC, the CIA, the FBI, and (as the Beatles once sang), the BBC do not make laws.  Or who am I kidding?  They all do.  And presidents issue executive orders and signing statements constantly.  In many of these cases, they seem to me to be illegal under our constitutional government.

Video:  Biden announces unconstitutional student loan forgiveness. Note how he justifies it.

The Executive Branch – the president – is supposed to enforce those laws.  If Joe Biden wants to open the border, he needs a bill passed by the House and by the Senate and sent to him to sign.  No bill – no open border.  Or that’s what you’d think.  I understand that the White House has broad powers when it comes to foreign policy.  But Congress is supposed to declare war, or we don’t go to war.  Think about the last we time Congress declared war – Korea?  Nope.  It was World War II.  How many wars have we fought that are totally illegal because Congress made no declaration?  That would be all of them since WWII.  But no congressman or senator wants to be on record for going to war.  They are spineless in this matter.

The other branch really doesn’t matter to Joe Biden.  The Judicial Branch, comprised of U.S. District Courts, Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court is only there to make rulings that Biden likes.  The Supreme Court struck down Biden’s student loan forgiveness program in 2023.  Biden’s handlers found a loophole and went on with it unfettered.

And so, it goes.

Barack Obama sent money to one of our worst enemies, Iran, on pallets and without an act of Congress.  His treaty with Iran regarding nuclear weapons was simply called something else to avoid the pesky need for two-thirds approval in the Senate.  President Donald Trump had no qualms about going around Congress if he wanted to.  The border wall is a prime example.

Will George Will write about this?  Yes, George will.

Will is almost too intellectual to write columns that are actually readable.  Sometimes you to have to wander through the malaise to get to his point — but credit is now due.  In a column entitled “Trump, Biden and why the regal presidency perpetually disappoints voters,” Will writes about the escalating trend of an all-powerful Executive Branch.  His opening line sets the stage:

“What the nation will most need from the presidency in 2025 is less of it.”

He hit the nail on the head, but he knows as well as I do that the power the president will take always amounts to as much as he can get.  Will writes about how presidents misuse the War Powers Act and about how the Constitution’s treaty clause is virtually ignored.  Even President George W. Bush was guilty, says Will:

“And during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, when Congress provided only for the bailout of financial institutions, George W. Bush simply acted as though General Motors and Chrysler were financial institutions.”

Will pulls freely from Saikrishna Prakash’s 2020 book The Living Presidency: An Originalist Argument Against Its Ever-Expanding Powers.  This line paraphrased from the book is awesome in its frankness and in its implicit warning:

‘The presidential oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution has been emptied of meaning.’

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Harvard University Press

Elections have consequences, as we’ve heard Obama and others say.  The American people – many of whom think the president actually has all these powers — ought to elect some members of Congress that have functioning spines once they get into office.

It can’t just be Joe Manchin on the left and Chip Roy on the right.  Every single member of Congress – House and Senate – ought to stand up and sayMr. President, you do not have the power to make law.  That power is reserved to us.

Stated more plainly:  Congress can stop rogue presidents by saying no.  Yes, Congress has the power to say no to any president that tries to make his own laws.  Congress also must stand up for the Supreme Court in a case such as Biden’s student loan forgiveness.

(Note that I support student loan forgiveness in that I believe colleges ought to refund the money to former students who are wallowing in debt with degrees that don’t generate enough money to justify the tuition.)

But a warning:  the Supreme Court is prohibited from making laws as well. 

The “Roe v. Wade” decision was NOT the law of the land because the Court cannot make laws.  That decision ought to have sent the case back to state legislatures because Congress isn’t given power over reproductive rights or lack thereof.  But it was considered law.  That’s wrong, too.

RELATED:  It’s Texas versus Joe Biden on Control of the Southern Border. Who’s right? 

Each of our three branches of government has a lane and must stay in that lane.

Congress is the branch to make that happen.  It can start by refusing to grant powers to the president that were granted to Congress by the Constitution.  Otherwise, we doomed to have a “living presidency” that will function precisely the way it works in Russia and China.  Democrats seemed to believe that — when Trump was moving money around for his wall.  But when Biden makes up his own laws, they seem fine with it.

Regardless of which party is in power, the separation of powers is a constitutional mandate.  Presidents of both stripes will ignore that mandate and will take every inch of power Congress is willing to give up.

Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based author, broadcaster, and songwriter.  Follow his podcast at  Check out his author’s page at  Order books direct from Lynn at https://PlanetLogicPress.Square.Site.  Email Lynn at

You can buy this book without congressional authorization.  Just click and buy.


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