(RightWing.org) – The question of how much power a president should have has been a subject of intense debate since our third president, Thomas Jefferson. The writer of the Declaration of Independence sent the US Navy to protect American ships off the coast of Africa, potentially provoking a long-lasting war with pirates. Jefferson said he didn’t have time to consult with Congress, which was a true statement considering how infrequently Congress was in session during that era. Since then, presidents have secured more power for the executive branch.
In recent years, one Republican US Senator began calling for the restoration of the separation of powers. Still, it’s seen more as a rebellion against the party than a fight for the Constitution. So, what’s going on that’s putting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the middle of the scuttle?
The majority of senators want to fast-track presidential authority that would empower President Joe Biden to enact sanctions faster on Russia without consent from the Senate. Despite pressure from Republicans, Paul isn’t budging.
Is Sen. Paul Wrong to Block Efforts to Cripple Russia’s Economy?
On Thursday, March 17, the House passed a bill to suspend trade relations with Russia, garnering 424 votes. Recently, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to approve the House’s account through a fast-track process. Paul blocked the move and is forcing it to go through regular debate in the Senate.
Senate Democrats and numerous Republicans allege that Paul is stalling the effort to cut off Russia, which in turn helps Russian President Vladimir Putin. Dismissing lawmakers’ narrative, Paul said they should read the legislation before considering fast-tracking a bill. He said most of it was symbolic and had little to no meat.
Regardless, that wasn’t the main thrust of Paul’s argument. The legislation would expand the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the president to unilaterally punish human-rights abusers across the globe. Included with the act was a measure that would remove the Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for Russia and Belarus. Paul’s concern is that the bill would strip Congress of its Constitutional powers and give too much to the president.
Could a Bill Pass Using Regular Order of the Senate?
To pass a bill using a fast-track status, all 100 Senators must agree for it to pass. Otherwise, it will go through the more lengthy debate process before a final vote. Still, Paul’s ultimate goal is to force Congress to do its job and stop ceding unnecessary power to the executive branch.
There is doubt the bill will ultimately pass. Republicans say they may not support a stand-alone bill to revoke Russia’s trade status. Additionally, the Senate could struggle to pass trade legislation and a bill to ban Russian oil imports together.
The Kentucky Senator said he isn’t opposed to the objective of the legislation; he simply wants controls put in place. So, is Paul right to assert that a bill should provide restrictions or restraints on presidential authority? Should there be some rules and guidance from Congress?
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