by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For a sense of how alarmed House Democrats are about the upcoming midterms, consider what they want President Biden to do about their failed legislative initiatives. According to an Associated Press report, caucus leaders are “urging him to issue executive orders that could push their proposals forward without votes in the House and Senate.” Due to intraparty ideological disputes, the Democrats have been unable to pass important bills and therefore have very few accomplishments to talk about when they face their constituents in November. Consequently, they want the President to bypass the Congress and impose their stalled agenda on the nation by fiat.
Even the Speaker of the House, who should be interested in protecting the constitutional prerogatives of Congress, made it clear that Biden should exceed his executive authority if the Democrats can’t get their agenda passed. On Friday, Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “It’s very important for the executive to act if we cannot get legislative action immediately.” Pelosi went on to justify this claim with an egregious false analogy: “The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.” Never mind that Lincoln issued that EO pursuant to his war powers — it applied only to the states in rebellion — and that the nation faces no such emergency now. He certainly didn’t issue it simply because his party couldn’t pass its pet bills.
And that’s really what all this nonsense about executive orders is about. The Democratic leadership, with tiny congressional majorities in Congress, tried to fundamentally transform the republic in ways the voters don’t support and that would do real violence to the Constitution. Biden and most other congressional Democrats ran as moderates, but immediately lurched leftward after they were sworn in. Thus, they not only failed to get Republican support for most of their legislation, they were unable to secure support from fellow Democrats on crucial votes.