Adam White: Is Congress Afraid of Power?
Articles,  Blog

Adam White: Is Congress Afraid of Power?

Often times with think about the Executive
Branch or the agencies taking power away from Congress, and it’s true that’s an important
problem, but the more important problem is Congress giving away its own power. And why does Congress give away its power? Because it’s scared of accountability. But
ultimately, our constitutional system relies on Congress being accountable, and the people
making Congress accountable. Madison envisioned a system in which the
problems of republican government would have republican remedies.” Not administrative remedies, not technocratic
remedies, not judicial remedies, but republican remedies. Madison and the Framers expected that ambition
would counteract ambition, that that was a core part of our functioning constitutional
government. But Congress today just isn’t ambitious enough,
and the members of Congress aren’t ambitious enough. We need to take a long look at that and think
of ways to restore that basic framework, that basic alignment of interests between the office
holders and the offices that they hold, to restore that basic system of checks and balances. Congress gives away too much of its power. It gives away its power to unaccountable agencies
that remove governance from the people. They delegate unlimited powers, and then they’re
unable to control the agencies’ exercise of those powers. But the problem’s deeper than that, even for
the agencies that are nominally accountable to the President and to agencies. Congress just can’t do enough from its current
arrangement to oversee those agencies. Obviously, Congress does a lot of good, and
the agencies do a lot of good. The first Congress created agencies to administer
the laws, and we need agencies to carry out the laws, but it’s also doing a lot of harm
to the extent that it takes ultimate responsibility for policy, ultimate power over government,
away from the people. And I think the most good that Congress could
do right now is to rediscover its own power to find remedies for the faults of government.


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