OTR Interviews

Gowdy: 'Blank Right!' We're going to use the power of the purse against Obama's executive actions

Are Republicans' options truly limited when combating the president's use of executive action?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, 'ON THE RECORD' GUEST HOST: South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy joins us.

Good evening, Congressman. Can anything be done to stop President Obama's power grab?

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Sure. I can think of four things right now. Number one, my colleagues in the Senate have advice and consent. If they want to shut down the Senate over appropriation bills or ambassadorships or other things. The Constitution gives them the power of advice and consent. The Constitution gives us power over the purse. So we have appropriation bills that are going to be coming to the House this spring. We ought to strip money away from this executive branch, because our framers gave us that exclusive right to do so. If one branch overreaches then maybe the other branch ought to stick up for itself. Thirdly, we can go to the judicial branch. We do have standing when it comes to vote nullification, which is what ObamaCare is. You can go to the judicial branch and ask them to stop. But most importantly, we can go to your viewers. Your voters -- almost 500 representatives are up every two years. Our framers did that on purpose. And we can say, you know he what, you can fix it. You can fix executive overreach or legislative under reach by throwing them out.

PIRRO: There is no question, Congressman, that the public doesn't like it when the president goes around government. It's one of the first things we learn in school, in Civics. There are three equal brambles of government the executive, legislative and judicial. Given the fact that I think just about everybody understands, this why does he continue to do it?

GOWDY: Because so far he has gotten away with it. Last October, we weren't persuasive enough. People don't like the Affordable Care Act but they don't like our tactic of shutting down the government. OK. Fine. We got that. We still have appropriation wills that are coming. So what we ought to do is say, Mr. President, you want to run rough shot over the Constitution, we have the power of the purse. We're not going to fund your pet projects. We're not going to fund your green energy initiatives.

PIRRO: Are you going to do that?

GOWDY: We are not going it fund your vacations.

PIRRO: Are you going to do that?

GOWDY: Blank right, we are going to do it.

PIRRO: Blank right.

GOWDY: Yes, we're going to do it. Yes. Because my mom made may be watching. You are blank right we are going to do it.


PIRRO: And my mom may be watching, too.

Let me --

GOWDY: There are a host of my colleagues that are not just going to sit around and mope and cry because this president overreaches. We're going to respond and we are going to respond in the appropriations process.

PIRRO: Congressman, I have to tell you that quote from that Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra, he says something about, you know, if Obama's actions were truly against the Constitution, someone would have sued him by now. Well, how does that hit you?

GOWDY: He has been sued and he is going to lose on the HHS mandate and on recess appointments. He doesn't have a good track record in court. We do have standing to sue under a theory of jury nullification. It's very tough for Congress to sue the executive branch because the judicial branch doesn't want to get involved.

PIRRO: Exactly.

GOWDY: But there's an exception. The Coleman case from 1939, under a theory of vote nullification -- because, think about it this way, Judge, the president has the power of veto. The framers gave him that. Once a bill passes, he doesn't have a second veto where he can pick or choose what parts of a law he did sign into law he wants to enforce. So we do have standing. But I don't want to run into another branch of government. I want to assert what the framers gave us, which is the power of the purse. If he doesn't get his act together, and frankly even if he does, we need to stop some of his pet projects.

PIRRO: Well, you know what? There is no question the power of the purse on so many levels is one of the most powerful weapons that you guys have. But you know what is fascinating to me, Congressman, is the fact that, here you have got this Obamacare law, right? How -- it was the first thing that he did when he got in. There is not one Republican who voted for it and, yet, here is a guy who is trying to change it when it was everything he wanted. He had no problems. He got it the way he wanted it. What does it tell you whether or not these people know what they are doing?

GOWDY: That it is abomination. And nobody wants to run for re- election based on worse coverage, higher premiums, violating the First Amendment, losing your work hours. Listen, if I were them, I would try to delay it, too. I would try to delay it as long as I could.


PIRRO: But, Congressman --

GOWDY: It's the law.

PIRRO: You try to delay it but you know what? I agree with you. You are absolutely right. But delay it for everybody. Stop with the picking and choosing and the waivers. But we'll see.

Congressman Gowdy --


GOWDY: No, I --


PIRRO: -- go ahead.

GOWDY: I hope you are right. I hope in November, my fellow citizens send that message. We want it delayed for everybody for a long time.

PIRRO: All right. Congressman Gowdy, see you later in the show. Thank you.