In some of the more iconic issues the current administration has dealt with so far, some in the public have questioned whether the President truly understands the system of checks and balances with which our system of government operates. This was particularly true of the proposed travel ban, which inspired Sam Achado, Cynthia Sousa Machado and Edward Rodgers to create an editorial cartoon, titled ‘I Got This,’ that went viral.
It depicted, in the way only satyrical/metaphorical art can, the reason the system is set in place and the result of one branch overstepping its bounds.
Now, the President is being given a new opportunity to show he understands how the three branches work and why they were set in place as they are. Our very own Senator Chuck Grassley sent the President a six-page letter — seven if you count the two lines that say Senator Diane Feinstein was CC’d on the letter — telling him the swamp is being flooded. That’s not even hyperbole on my part. Grassley actually used those words.
This all comes after the Office of Legal Councel released an opinion, saying only information requests from committee or their chairs to the Executive Branch are authorized by the constitution. Grassley, who happens to be a committee chairman, voiced his position with appropriate brevity.
“This is nonsense,” he wrote, as a paragraph all it’s own.
He goes on to say the Constitution doesn’t mention committees or chairmen at all. It’s just simply how the Legislative Branch has been arranged, which leads to my next point. Since the election, Democrats are in the minority. A quick skim of the current Senate and House committee chairmen reads like a guest list on a pirate ship. It’s all R’s. A bad joke, I know.
So, in effect, this opinion means the Executive Branch would not have to answer oversight questions from Democrats, that is unless a Republican committee chair graciously allowed them to. That, just like putting a media ban on the EPA before opening up the Dakota Access Pipeline, sends a bad message.
Grassley recognized this. He sees that it’s a partisan move. On top of it, he pointed out that this will not only impede the minority members of Congress, but the Republicans who just happen to not be chairmen of anything.
“I know from experience that a partisan response to oversight only discourages bipartisanship, decreases transparency, and diminishes the crucial role of the American people’s elected representatives. Oversight brings transparency, and transparency brings accountability. And, the opposite is true. Shutting down oversight requests doesn’t drain the swamp, Mr. President. It floods the swamp.” Grassley wrote.
I told you they were his words.
And he’s got a good point. The OLC’s decision doesn’t just leave the Congressmen in the lurch. It leaves the people of their respective districts and states without an effective voice. Grassley concluded his letter by saying the OLC’s decision obstructs the natural flow of information thereby clogging up the function of legislation. In other words, this isn’t how it’s supposed to work.
Now the President is faced with a decision. He can do nothing and achieve what may seem like an efficient remodel of the Legislative Branch for the time being, or he can rescind the OLC’s opinion, like Grassley is requesting, and show he understands the function of government.
Thank you Sen. Grassley, for standing for principle over party.