Sen. Lee introduces bill that would limit some presidential powers, delegating them to Congress

Feb 4, 2021, 5:16 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm
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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Senator Mike Lee speaks during #JusticReformNow Capitol Hill Advocacy Day at Russell Senate Office Building on April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Sen. Mike Lee introduced a bill Thursday that would limit presidential decisions, handing certain legislative powers back to Congress. The ARTICLE ONE Act would “reclaim significant” legislative capabilities that were previously delegated to the executive branch — namely the president — through the National Emergencies Act of 1976. 

The bill would virtually eliminate unilateral power from the Oval Office. Instead, it would require congressional approval as a means to provide “constitutional balance.”

“This kind of lawmaking-by-proclamation runs directly counter to the vision of our Founders and undermines the safeguards protecting our freedom,” Lee said in a statement. “It’s high time that Congress reclaimed its legislative power and restored constitutional balance to our Republic.”

The move comes one week after Lee signed onto GOP legislation that would halt President Joe Biden from enacting a proposed moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing. Through the counter-legislation, Republican senators hoped to reclaim some legislative influence. 

“Presidents should not have the unilateral power to kill jobs like this,” Lee said in a statement Jan. 28. “The POWER Act will check the president’s power by giving Congress a say in future leasing disruptions.”

If passed, the bill would automatically end all emergency declarations after 30 days unless Congress votes in favor of continuing them. Under current statute, Congress can cancel an emergency declaration only if they pass a resolution that withstands a presidential veto. 

This would make 37 ongoing national emergencies subject to congressional approval. 

Lee, along with seven other GOP sponsors of the bill, argue the unilateral power given through the National Emergencies Act of 1976 makes the president “like a king.”

The other bill sponsors include: Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

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Sen. Lee introduces bill that would limit some presidential powers, delegating them to Congress