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Is America’s system of government broken?

Congressman Robert Pittenger HeadshotOur Founding Father’s envisioned three, co-equal branches of government, with a purposeful division of powers among them.

Yet over the past eight years, we’ve seen President Obama and his Executive Administration – including former Secretary Clinton – amass more and more power, ignoring the Legislative Branch and daring the Judiciary Branch to challenge him.  No wonder Americans are angry.

After overthrowing a monarchy, our Founding Fathers drew up the greatest governing document in the history of the world – the United States Constitution.  Now is the time to restore the Constitution as the guiding center of our governing philosophy and apply its principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, and limited government, not the time to seek more liberal judges who view the Constitution as a living document for their own interpretation.

To do so, House Republicans have developed a four point plan:  make government more accountable, make government more representative, restore Constitutional checks on the use of your tax dollars, and make government more transparent.

MAKE GOVERNMENT MORE ACCOUNTABLE

Whether you’re running a business, a household, or the government, everyone needs accountability.  As your Congressman, I’m accountable to you through reelection every two years.  If you don’t think I’ve done a good job, you can vote me out.

Unfortunately, Washington is full of bureaucrats who have zero accountability but too much power.

When Congress passes a law, it often includes broad instructions to be fleshed out with more specific rules by experts in the appropriate government agency.  This practice has enabled bureaucrats to interpret the law as they please and write the rules according to their objectives, not Congressional intent.

To address this, Congress must write clearer laws with enforceable lines of authority.  Another solution is to create an expedited process for the Judiciary Branch when considering legal action against the Executive agencies.

MAKE GOVERNMENT MORE REPRESENTATIVE

Members of Congress represent the American people.  We serve two-year terms, making the House of Representatives the most responsive body of government, and therefore the most representative.  The House of Representatives is often called “The People’s House.”

Unelected bureaucrats are supposed to work for the people.  But when federal agencies start creating and enforcing rules not approved by Congress, they make government less representative.

For example, every federal program is supposed to be authorized to receive funding, but last year Congress spent $310 billion on programs for which authorizations have expired or will expire this year.  Congress must evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of every expiring program and either reauthorize or terminate it.  This creates accountability and ensures bureaucrats are following the will of the people.

RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL CHECKS ON SPENDING

How do we stop federal spending on autopilot?  Congress must return to the normal legislative process of passing 12 annual appropriations bills to fund the government.   While an omnibus spending bill or continuing resolution can be used to help avoid a disastrous government shutdown, the process bypasses the careful, deliberate examination of federal spending, reduces accountability among federal agencies, and makes it harder for rank-and-file Members to exercise their Constitutional authority over the federal purse.

MAKE GOVERNMENT MORE TRANSPARENT

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.  To shed more light on government spending, we need to empower the Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General offices within each federal agency.  In 2015, taxpayers spent $2.6 billion on Inspectors General and received a return on investment of $46.5 billion in identified savings.  Congress must give these offices appropriate tools and resources to work even more effectively, and make it a priority to take action on their findings.

Making government more transparent naturally makes government more accountable.  Restoring Constitutional authority over spending simultaneously makes government more representative.

Our Founding Fathers set America on the path of success through our groundbreaking Constitution.  Now, it’s time to return to that proven path of limited government, checks and balances, and separation of powers.

Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.

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