Sullivan Introduces the Checks and Balances Act
Legislation would end loopholes used by President to circumvent Congress
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today introduced legislation to close glaring loopholes in federal law that the Biden administration has exploited to diminish the constitutional role of Congress in serving as a check against the power of the President. The Checks and Balances Act would amend the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to ensure that “task forces” are subject to a resolution of disapproval. Additionally, the bill clarifies that agency decisions on behalf of the President are also bound by a CRA. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) are cosponsors of the bill.
Sullivan’s legislation stems from a recent determination by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the President’s vaccine mandate on federal contractors was not subject to a CRA resolution of disapproval because the executive order was directed at the “Safer Federal Workforce Task Force” and not a federal agency. While a federal agency was involved in finalizing the rule, GAO found that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was acting on behalf of the President and not acting as a federal agency when approving the mandate.
“Our country’s system of government, guided by the Constitution, was founded on the basic principle that no one branch of government should ever accumulate too much power. For this very reason, we have a system of checks and balances set up to prevent unilateral power grabs, such as the President’s unconstitutional vaccine mandates,” said Senator Sullivan. “These mandates are not supported by the Constitution or statute, and have negatively impacted our nation’s work force—forcing contractors to fire employees who are responsible for some very important work. Congress has a duty to check the President’s power in this area, which is why today I am introducing legislation to close these loopholes and ensure no President can ever again abuse the limited authority granted them by the Constitution of the United States.”
“Biden is a President ruling like a dictator, and someone needs to step in. The unconstitutional vaccine mandates are just one example of Biden’s blatant overreach that’s chipping away at the checks and balances our nation relies on. It is Congress’s job to keep executive power in check – this legislation helps us do just that,” Senator Daines said.
“People should be alarmed by the fact that a presidential task force has any power to issue mandates and edicts that can destroy the livelihoods of average workers. It’s just not right,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “I appreciate Senator Sullivan taking the lead on legislation to close a loophole that is being exploited by this administration in order to protect the constitutional role of checks and balances in our government.”
“The Checks and Balances Act would be a significant measure to rein in the Biden Administration, which is imposing tyrannical dictates on the American people through unelected ‘task forces’. I’m thankful to Senator Sullivan for leading on this legislation to enforce a degree of adherence by the Biden White House to the law and Constitution which it constantly dismisses,” said Senator Marshall.
“I was proud to lead the challenge to President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate with Senator Sullivan and our Republican colleagues under the Congressional Review Act, and this tool Congress can use to hold the President accountable has to include the unelected White House task forces which are wielding power without an appropriate check and balance,” said Senator Braun.
In September of 2021, President Biden announced a vaccine mandate on federal contractors. While other employee mandates were subject to being overturned under the CRA, it was unclear if the federal contractor mandate qualified for a CRA resolution of disapproval. In October of 2021, Sen. Sullivan led a letter to the President requesting an end to the vaccine mandate for private employees and federal contractors. Sen. Sullivan later contacted the GAO to determine if the CRA was applicable to the vaccine mandate for federal workers. The GAO said no for two reasons:
- The EO was directed to a task force and not to an agency.
- When OMB approved the recommendation made by the task force, they were acting on behalf of the President and not as an agency.
The Checks and Balance Act closes both of those loopholes.
In 2020, Congress and President Trump worked in a bipartisan way on an agreement to provide economic relief for American businesses on the condition they keep their employees. The actions taken by President Biden’s undermined the significant bipartisan efforts that Congress took to ensure hard-working Americans remained employed during the pandemic and exacerbated the uncertainty many hard-working Americans were already facing due to the high inflation caused by the Biden administration’s far left policies.
The CRA can be used by Congress to overturn certain federal agency regulations and actions through a joint resolution of disapproval. If a CRA joint resolution of disapproval is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, or if Congress successfully overrides a presidential veto, the rule at issue is invalidated.
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