Submitted by State Senator Chris McDaniel
“Should Republicans re-capture Congress in January of 2023, they should utilize this ‘weapon of the purse’ at its utmost.”
The federal government is currently debating new spending bills for the fiscal year, filled with more outrageous spending from the White House. Yet, some brave conservative souls are fighting to halt the budget over vaccine mandates, for instance, which are included in the proposals along with out-of-control spending.
One outstanding conservative member, Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, said it best on the House floor: “Don’t continue to operate as the United States House of Free Stuff.”
Sadly, this is where we are.
Congress currently does not operate on the principle of doing what is in the country’s best interest as a whole, all while operating under its constitutional restraints, but instead sees itself as a Santa Claus to give free gifts to enough people to keep getting re-elected.
It is a sickening spectacle.
But it is clear from studying the Constitution and how the document was formed that Congress was meant to be the strongest of the three branches, with considerable powers over the other two. In other words, Congress has the ability to right the ship.
And at one time in our great country, members of Congress took the job seriously. They understood their constitutional duties and were jealous guardians over their powers.
Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, who served from 1877 to 1904, wrote in his memoirs that Senators “would have received as a personal affront a private message from the White House expressing a desire that they should adopt any course in the discharge of their legislative duties that they did not approve. If they visited the White House, it was to give, not receive, advice. Each of these stars kept his own orbit and shone in his sphere, within which he tolerated no intrusion from the President, or from anybody else.”
This is how things were meant to be.
But now, Congress seems to be paralyzed by politics, refusing to take hard stances on challenging issues, deferring to the executive and judicial branches, or even administrative agencies, for political cover.
Yet, Congress itself has considerable weapons in its arsenal to handle overzealous members of the executive and judicial branches or any agency that would dare overstep its authority — the Founders wisely left most powers in the hands of the representatives of the people and the states.
For example, Congress has the power to impeach and remove officials, create or abolish departments and agencies, create or abolish courts, set the number of seats on the Supreme Court, limit federal court jurisdiction, and most importantly of all, control the purse strings.
Consider what James Madison had to say in Federalist #58:
“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for government support. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
Should Republicans re-capture Congress in January of 2023, they should utilize this “weapon of the purse” at its utmost.
Admittedly, the spending spree must end. As Congressman Roy said in his same floor speech, “If we don’t stop it, this country will not survive.” He’s right.
But the power should also be used as a weapon to rein in overzealous executive department overreach, especially when agencies refuse to give information to Congress.
The FBI, ostensibly serving as a police force for the Democratic Party, should be defunded unless reformed and no longer used for politically-motivated intimidation or investigations. Then, if the Justice Department moves to fund it by other means, it should be immediately defunded as well. And so on.
Likewise, since Congress has the constitutional authority to make rules and regulations for the US military, all vestiges of the “woke” culture, including Critical Race Theory and Climate Change, should be banned from indoctrinating servicemembers. And if the bureaucracy drags its feet, defund programs until they comply.
And that’s just the beginning.
The Constitution is quite clear on which branch controls spending, and it is Congress. It says that no appropriations can be made absent congressional approval. We like to blame our Presidents for overspending, but it is the fault of Congress.
Once the GOP regains control of Congress, it should find the courage to use the power of the purse to steer the federal government back towards fiscal responsibility and respect for the Constitution.
But, if history is our guide, it will take a new generation of fighters to get it done.
Submitted by State Senator Chris McDaniel.