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Politics

What America really needs to do is abolish Congress

Catherine Rampell on

The far right wants to eliminate what it considers the vestigial organs of government, including the Education, Commerce and Energy departments. The far left wants to Abolish ICE.

They're both thinking too small. What America really needs to do -- and what might actually receive strong bipartisan support -- is to Abolish Congress.

Sure, you might argue that the legislative branch has critical responsibilities, endowed by our sacred Constitution. Congress is an equal branch of government that provides checks and balances on the other branches.

Without Congress, you might ask, wouldn't the president have completely free rein to act on his worst authoritarian impulses? But then again you might also ask: How would that be different from the situation we have now?

Why, just a few days ago, the legislature proved how little interest it has in exercising one of its most fundamental constitutional powers, the power of the purse.

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate federal dollars. This is a constitutionally mandated check on the executive branch and at the crux of our founding document's separation of powers. In practice, it means the president cannot decide unilaterally to spend money for a purpose that Congress has rejected.

 

And yet that is what happened last week.

Congress has -- multiple times now -- explicitly denied President Trump's request for billions of dollars for a border wall that we don't need and that most Americans don't want. After months of debate and a pointless shutdown, lawmakers appropriated $1.375 billion for border barriers, and not a penny more. Then Trump announced that he was declaring a "national emergency" to commandeer $8 billion for his pet project anyway.

Federal lawmakers should have been livid at this power grab. Curiously, many were not. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. -- one of the most powerful people in this supposedly powerful branch of government -- declared this a splendid outcome.

So here's my question to you, fellow taxpayers. If lawmakers are not going to perform their most basic constitutional functions, then what are we paying them (at minimum) $174,000 a year to do? We might as well can them all and save the money.

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