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Sen. Grassley calls for Holder to provide a legal defense for Obama's executive actions

FILE: Sen. Charles Grassley speaks on Capitol Hill.AP

A top Republican senator is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to provide a legal defense for President Obama’s planned executive orders as outlined in his State of the Union address last week.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote a letter to Holder Monday demanding the Justice Department publicly release its “opinions, analyses and conclusions” regarding the legality of the orders. Grassley states in the letter he wants Holder to do so because he is concerned Obama’s use of executive action is an attempt to circumvent the Constitution, and asks him to respond by Feb. 14.

“The president has made it clear that he’ll circumvent Congress if it doesn’t act on the president’s priorities.  His actions suggest a certain amount of disrespect for the legislative branch and the checks and balances set forth in the Constitution,” said Grassley, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Grassley writes an aggressive review of the orders by the Justice Department will provide transparency for Congress and the public to better evaluate the legality of the actions.

“This specific measure of transparency will allow both Congress and the American people to know whether these orders are being subjected to a rigorous constitutional review at the Department of Justice, as well as to better understand – and if necessary to challenge – the legal basis upon which they are purportedly issued,” he said. 

Obama announced in his annual address he plans to sidestep Congress and take a variety of executive actions in 2014 to enact economic change.  

Among the proposals are a plan to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors and a plan to set up a federally-backed “starter savings account” to help Americans plan for retirement.

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