Menu

Politics

White House

'I’ve got a pen': Obama raises hackles with executive actions

 

With his newly announced overhaul of National Security Agency surveillance activities, President Obama has once again hit a nerve with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. 

The president, as he often does when facing a nettlesome problem, used his executive powers to implement changes. In his address on Friday, Obama said he's approved a "new presidential directive for our signals intelligence activities both at home and abroad." 

The directive, Obama said, would strengthen oversight of intelligence and ensure trade and investment relationships are taken into account when spying. The president also went on to order a transition away from the bulk data collection program in its current form -- and restrict the ability of analysts to access that database during the transition. 

Some House Democrats said executive actions alone were not enough. 

"It is now time for Congress to take the next step by enacting legislation to appropriately limit these programs," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said in a statement, adding that Congress must "trust but codify" when it comes to the president's promises. 

"Executive Branch overreach in the name of national security did not start -- and will not end -- with this administration," New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said in a written statement. "The balance of powers enumerated in the Constitution must be respected for generations to come, regardless of who occupies the White House." 

But Republican lawmakers, who long have warned about the White House circumventing Congress, said this is only the tip of the iceberg -- citing the Affordable Care Act as the battleground for executive actions. 

"In high school government class, we were told that it is the Executive Branch that enforces the law, but it is Congress, the legislative branch, that enacts the law," Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran told Fox News. 

"Here we have an administration that one more time, without consulting Congress, without legislative changes, is altering their signature piece of legislation, ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act," Moran said. 

Lawmakers point to the delay of the so-called employer mandate -- implemented unilaterally last year -- and other changes. Some are trying to use the power of Congress to stop the president from "overreaching." 

Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., has proposed a resolution, called the Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP), that would authorize the House to challenge multiple presidential workarounds in court. "If it passes a majority of the House, it will start the lawsuit," Rice told Fox News. 

Obama signaled at a recent Cabinet meeting, though, that more executive actions are likely ahead. 

"I've got a pen and I've got a phone -- and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward," Obama said. He suggested he could use his phone to try and bring people together. 

"Well let me tell you, he may have a pen and telephone, but we have the Constitution," Rice countered.

Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.

FOX NEWS FIRST NEWSLETTER

Daily must-read stories from the biggest name in politics

Subscribe Get the full text emailed to you daily