Can the House of Representatives Sue Obama for Not Executing the Law?

Elizabeth Slattery /

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, believes he has the key to reining in the executive branch: suing President Barack Obama for not faithfully executing the law. But while Obama has repeatedly waived requirements of laws or chosen not to enforce them against whole categories of offenders, there’s a legal requirement known as “standing” that may stop Boehner in his tracks.

As John Malcolm and I detail in this Heritage paper, standing is a constitutional requirement for all lawsuits, including suits filed against the executive branch by private citizens, individual members of Congress, or an entire chamber of Congress. In essence, the standing requirement means that Boehner must be able to show that Obama’s failure to faithfully execute the law actually harms the House of Representatives, leaving it little recourse without court intervention.

Courts are generally reluctant to become referees in disputes between members of Congress and the executive branch when it would force them to police the limits of coequal branches’ powers. In such a case, it’s better for the political branches to work out their differences on their own—and Congress has tools such as appropriations and impeachment to deal with an obstinate president.

For this reason, most successful lawsuits challenging an administration’s abusive unilateral actions have been filed by private parties that suffered a demonstrable economic injury. A steel company challenged President Harry Truman’s attempt to nationalize American steel mills. After members of Congress failed in their lawsuit challenging the Line Item Veto Act, New York City and a group of businesses got the Act overturned. And recently, a bottling company brought down Obama’s “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

Boehner has laid out a plan for suing Obama and other executive branch officials for their failure to fully implement Obamacare. You may be wondering why the party that has tried to defund and repeal Obamacare would sue to get the administration to fully implement that same law. The answer is pretty simple: the president’s failure to implement the law “squelches any opportunity to have a robust, political debate about [its] workability,” as law professor Elizabeth Price Foley pointed out.

Boehner argues that the House can sue (as an institution) if there are no private parties who can sue, there is harm being done to the general welfare and faithful execution of the laws, and no legislative remedies exist. Late last week the House Rules Committee approved a resolution that would authorize such a lawsuit.

Boehner will face an uphill battle in this lawsuit. But critics should not be so quick to dismiss this case. The administration and many others claimed suits challenging Obamacare’s “individual mandate” under the Commerce Clause were laughable and lacked any merit. (Recall then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, “Are you serious?” to someone asking about Congress’s power to enact the individual mandate.)

But ultimately, the Supreme Court agreed that the individual mandate could not be justified under the Commerce Clause, and instead turned the mandate into a tax to uphold it. Boehner’s lawsuit may also surprise its critics.

Schools Brace for Flood of Immigrant Children - Daily Signal

Schools Brace for Flood of Immigrant Children

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo /

MIAMI—With thousands of Central American children newly arrived in the United States, and more expected to come, school officials have asked the federal government for a helping hand.

Immigrant kids cost about $1,900 more per pupil to educate. Teachers must be bilingual. The students will need health care and psychological services because many arrive sick and traumatized by things they’ve experienced.

Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, communications officer at the Miami-Dade County Public School, said until now the school district has relied on its emergency funds to help cover the costs.

“We are asking the federal government to help us with this additional cost,” she said. “We are here to help those children. We have a history of helping them, as we did when the earthquake hit Haiti, and when political problems arose in Cuba. We won’t stop providing them an education. But we don’t want the [local] taxpayer to pay for it. That’s why we are asking for federal funds.”

She said that just before the end of school in June, her district saw about 300 immigrant kids, coming from Honduras. She said the system won’t know how many more kids are coming from Central America this year until shortly before the school year begins.

The Palm Beach County School District has yet to see an uptick in border kids enrolling, but it won’t be caught off guard if this happens. It absorbed hundreds of children after the Haiti earthquake.

But at the Guatemalan Mayan Center, a Lake Worth, Fla.-based community organization that offers assistance and language classes to immigrants, a class to help children learn English before they enter American schools has grown from three students last year to 50 this year, according to Micaela Marti, a volunteer.

In Pasco County, shelters expect to double their capacity.

And in Brevard County, the Children’s Home Society of Florida confirmed that some unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border of the U.S. will be sent to local foster homes in the state next month.


I Played by the Rules on Immigration. Why Is the U.S. Making It So Hard for Me to Become a Doctor? - Daily Signal

I Played by the Rules on Immigration. Why Is the U.S. Making It So Hard for Me to Become a Doctor?

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky /

Fifteen years ago, when I was 6, my parents and I moved to the United States from Canada, where I was born. Since moving to this great country, I have attended elementary, middle and high school in Coral Springs, Fla., and I’m currently pursuing a bachelor degree in biological sciences and pre-med at Florida Atlantic University.

Photo: Marcie Macknofsky

Photo: Marcie Macknofsky

I’m also a “non-resident alien,” meaning I was able to stay in the United States first under a visa because of my father’s job and now thanks to a student visa. But because of my status as a non-resident alien, I have paid out-of-state tuition during my time at Florida Atlantic.

Even under the new law signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott—which grants in-state tuition to students living illegally in the United States—I’m left paying out-of-state rates.

How can someone who is living in the United States illegally get a tuition break but I get penalized for doing things legally?

My father has been on a nonimmigrant NAFTA professional visa as part of his job for 15 years. He personifies a typical hard-working American citizen. He has paid his taxes in the United States and has worked feverishly as a computer consultant but could not be sponsored for a green card until recently, when he was hired as a full-time employee.

Upon receiving the news he’s now being sponsored for a green card, I was ecstatic for my father and also excited that I would be able to attend medical school in the United States.

L-R Marcie, Brandon, Jeffrey, Amber (Photo: Marcie Macknofsky)

L-R Marcie, Brandon, Jeffrey, Amber (Photo: Marcie Macknofsky)

My feeling quickly changed, though, when I learned that even though my father was able to “grandfather” both my mother and sister on his green card, I would be excluded since I turned 21 on Dec. 20, 2013. I already have aged out. (I also have a 5-year-old U.S.-born brother.)

Now, I find it is nearly impossible to become a physician and attend medical school in the United States. I cannot go to a state medical school as I am considered an international student, despite my extensive education and residency in the United States.

I’ve considered alternatives, such as attending a private university. But few will accept a student without a green card. And without a green card or an American co-signer, I cannot obtain any sort of scholarship or student loan being a Canadian citizen. Without a loan, I can’t afford the cost of tuition for medical school.

At Florida Atlantic University, I have a 3.87 GPA, tutor for biochemistry and work up to 10-hour shifts as a hospital emergency room physician scribe a few times a week. At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of doctors, I’m committed to a career in medicine. I’ve been so grateful for the opportunities in life that I hope I can give back to my community through medicine.

Photo: Marcie Macknofsky

Photo: Marcie Macknofsky

I believe that being a doctor is a calling to me as I wish to help others in the way that physicians have helped me. From being hit by a truck when I was in high school to saving one of my best friend’s life from lung cancer at the age of 19, what doctors do on a daily basis is sheerly incomprehensible, and all I want to have is the opportunity to follow my version of the American dream.

For the past 15 years, I’ve come to call the United States my home. I consider myself an American in every way, and I hope that one day, I’ll become a citizen. In the meantime, though, I hope our nation’s leaders will remember those of us who are following a legal path to citizenship and at least level the playing field for us.

Frustrated With Federal ‘Bullying’ Over Mouse, Ranchers Take Their Case to Congress - Daily Signal

Frustrated With Federal ‘Bullying’ Over Mouse, Ranchers Take Their Case to Congress

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski /

The battle over the meadow jumping mouse moved has from New Mexico to Washington, D.C.

Ranchers who complain the federal government is acting with a heavy hand to protect the mouse appeared at a congressional hearing last week conducted by the House Natural Resources Committee.

Among the New Mexico contingent was a member of a hunting and fishing group who defended the U.S. Forest Service.

>>> Why a Chicken and a Mouse Are Stirring Debate in New Mexico

“They are abiding by the law,” Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said of the Forest Service, which has reinforced a gate to keep out cattle along a creek in Otero County and is considering a 4-foot-high fence in a meadow in the Santa Fe National Forest near Los Alamos.

At issue is trying to protect the habitat of the meadow jumping mouse, listed earlier this summer as endangered.

“What’s good for the meadow jumping mouse is also good for big game,” VeneKlasen said.

Other witnesses called before the subcommittee told a different story.

Jose Varela Lopez, president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, said his family has ranched in New Mexico for decades. He accused the federal government of going overboard, accusing officials of trying to “extinguish the customs and culture of our country’s land-based people.”

>>> New Mexico’s Mouse War Escalates

Mike Lucero, a rancher fighting the proposed fence accused the Forest Service of mismanagement. “If we’ve been overgrazing, why have they not told us that we have?” Lucero asked, pointing to a photo of the Rio Cebollo creek that runs through a grassy meadow.

The only New Mexico lawmaker at the hearing, Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, sided with the ranchers. “The arrogance and the bullying by the federal government must stop,” he said at the start of the hearing.

It’s not clear whether Thursday’s hearing will prompt further congressional action, but it seemed clear each side sees the controversy in a very different way.


Oklahoma Congressman Fights Plan to House Illegal Immigrants at Military Bases - Daily Signal

Oklahoma Congressman Fights Plan to House Illegal Immigrants at Military Bases

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel /

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a freshman congressman and Navy pilot whose military awards decorate his Capitol Hill office, holds a special affection for fellow servicemen.

The Oklahoma Republican also is sympathetic to Central American children who are being smuggled into the United States from Mexico to reunite with family.

Bridenstine witnessed the intersection of those two disparate demographics when, on July 12,  he toured a processing center for unaccompanied migrant children at the Fort Sill Army post in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Bridenstine had originally been barred from entering the federal facility housing illegal immigrants from Central America, but finally, 12 days after his first attempt, earned access into the living quarters.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, Bridenstine called for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the processing centers, to stop housing minors at U.S. military bases.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week approved a request from HHS to house an additional 5,000 minors at military facilities, including Fort Sill, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County in California. The agreement commits those facilities to be used through Jan. 31, 2015.

The announcement has fueled concerns that what was initially described as a short-term measure is becoming an open-ended commitment.

“Military bases were not designed to be refugee camps,” Bridenstine said. “We need to get these facilities back so that we can have the troops do the training they need to do.”

Will Congress Delay August Recess to Address Border Crisis? - Daily Signal

Will Congress Delay August Recess to Address Border Crisis?

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn /

Despite repeated prodding from “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, Rep. Steve Scalise wouldn’t definitively say whether the U.S. House would delay its month-long August recess and remain in Washington, D.C., to address the flood of illegal immigrants coming to the United States.

“We’re going to get our job done,” said Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who will become majority whip this week.

Several bills addressing the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the country’s southern border have been introduced in the House and Senate. Lawmakers have yet to take action, prompting President Obama to criticize them and suggest postponing recess.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Hamas Violated Cease-Fire With Israel - Daily Signal

Benjamin Netanyahu: Hamas Violated Cease-Fire With Israel

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn /

As violence in Israel and Gaza continues, hope for a break in the conflict was quickly shattered as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas violated the cease-fire. Hamas offered a 24-hour cease-fire beginning at 2 p.m. local time today. But Netanyahu told both “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace and “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley the group was “continuing to fire at us as we speak.”

How Culture and Opportunity Are Intertwined - Daily Signal

How Culture and Opportunity Are Intertwined

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Jim DeMint /

The character of our culture has a lot to do with opportunity in America. I learned early on, from personal experience, that these two notions are intertwined. My two brothers, my sister and I were reared by our single mom with a work ethic that shaped who I am today.

We struggled economically but my mother provided a model that showed us the importance of work and personal responsibility. To sustain our family, she started a ballroom dancing business in our home. She worked all the time but also expected us to do our share. So each morning, we would get up at 6 a.m. to find our personal list of duties for the day. Passing the time without doing something constructive was not an option.

While we each pulled our weight, the more we did, the more we felt we could do and the more confidence we gained. Growing up in Greenville, S.C., a small textile town, strengthened that feeling. There was a general understanding that each person was important and could make a difference in the lives of others.

My story, and similar stories shared by so many Americans, reveals a fundamental truth about our nation: The presence of opportunities may influence an individual’s prospects for the future, but the culture of a family or community affects the extent to which the individual takes advantage of those opportunities.

A brand new publication from The Heritage Foundation, the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, presents an at-a-glance view of cultural trends in America such as the marriage rate, religious participation and community involvement. These trends are presented alongside data on poverty, dependence, workforce participation, and educational and employment opportunities.

Many of the indicators in the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity are not heading in the right direction. Unwed childbearing is increasing. The marriage rate has fallen. The poverty rate is about the same today as it was when President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty 50 years ago.

The number of Americans dependent on food stamps has grown dramatically over the last decade. Significant student loan debt burdens college graduates at just the age when young people have typically gotten married and started a family.

But there is good news, too. More students are attending the school of their parents’ choosing, thanks to school choice programs. The abortion rate and violent crime rate have decreased. When we focus on these important issues through policy reforms and in community efforts across the country, we can make a difference.

That’s what the Index of Culture and Opportunity is designed to do: focus more attention, year by year, on the factors shaping our freedom to flourish. The Index tracks 31 indicators in three categories: culture, poverty and dependence, and general opportunity. The comprehensive report also includes commentary from 21 experts at The Heritage Foundation, other think tanks, universities, and the media to put the trends in context.

While data do not equate with destiny, and each individual makes choices and decisions that impact the course of his or her own life, examining the trends in each of these arenas can reveal some insight into the general direction in which our nation is moving.

From my earliest experiences in life, I learned that circumstances today do not determine how the future will unfold. We can build a better life for ourselves. That is why we have produced the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity – to show where we are now as a nation and to strengthen our resolve to get America back on track.

Originally posted on The Modesto Bee.

American’s Should Take Notes on Israel’s Iron Dome - Daily Signal

American’s Should Take Notes on Israel’s Iron Dome

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Jim DeMint / Rebeccah Heinrichs /

The Israeli missile-defense system known as Iron Dome once again finds itself in the international spotlight, causing many Americans to wonder if the U.S. has anything comparable. Here are a few important points about Iron Dome and missile defense in general for Americans to consider.

(1) Iron Dome is a missile-defense system that intercepts short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The system is designed to hit only incoming missiles headed toward population centers, which, up to this point in the conflict, have been about 30 percent of the total fired by Hamas. Of those 30 percent with “good” aim, the Iron Dome system boasts a 90 percent rating. One can only imagine what the death toll might be without the Israelis’ planning and investment to build and deploy Iron Dome.

(2) U.S. taxpayers who are impressed with the system should know that they are helping to pay for it. The U.S. has contributed about $720 million for the Israeli company Rafael to develop the system. In the midst of the current conflict, the Obama administration has requested $175 million more for Iron Dome. The Israelis have asked Congress to double that number, and all four defense committees — in the Republican House and Democratic Senate — have obliged, although the Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee outdid everyone by including an immediate $225 million in the emergency spending bill that’s being considered to deal with the border crisis. The American company Raytheon has recently signed on to help develop the system, and eventually some of the Iron Dome money will go toward manufacturing here at home.

(3) Some have called this system the result of Ronald Reagan’s vision to build a missile-defense system that critics at the time dubbed “Star Wars.” This is only partially true. President Reagan envisioned a space-based system that would have the ability to intercept missiles regardless of kind and from wherever on the globe they were launched. Having this capability would render nuclear weapons almost entirely obsolete. (Check out his famous Strategic Defense Initiative speech here.) Iron Dome is an impressive feat of science and technology, but the system defends against only certain kinds of threats. It is not designed to handle the bigger missiles that Iran would launch, for example. For them, the Israelis are developing with Boeing another layer of missile defense, using the Arrow system. This system would also be very beneficial to the South Koreans, who live under the constant threat of a North Korean missile launch, which explains why Seoul is very seriously looking into acquiring the system.

(4) The U.S. does have a missile-defense system not totally unlike that of Iron Dome. They are similar in that the systems’ objectives are to deploy interceptors toward incoming missiles. Once the U.S. interceptor is launched, it identifies the warhead and collides with it, destroying it before it begins its descent. But although Iron Dome enjoys wide bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, the same, ironically, can’t be said of the U.S. system. Indeed, we have this system only because President George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with the Russians in 2002, while many prominent Democrats (Senator Joe Biden among the loudest) complained about it.

(5) The initial deployment of what is called the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system was meant to provide the U.S. homeland with its first defense against the massive missiles that North Korea would have to use to hit the U.S. (which Pyongyang continues to test in violation of U.N. sanctions), and the plan was to continue its development and improvement. It has made great strides; just last month it successfully intercepted a target missile, which you can watch (in amazement) here. But it’s still imperfect. We also have systems aboard Aegis ships, which can intercept smaller-sized missiles. Remember that broken satellite that was careening toward Earth in 2008? The Pentagon configured Aegis, got it in place, and intercepted the satellite before it hit our planet — not a bad demonstration of its operational capability. And we have Patriot and THAAD — both short-range systems deployed in the field and operated by the Army — to intercept short-range ballistic missiles.

(6) The current layered system of systems, like the Israeli system, is impressive; however, it has its vulnerabilities. Although U.S. military operators are confident the system could handle the kind of threats Pyongyang or Tehran could throw at us now (keeping in mind that their intercontinental-ballistic-missile programs have not yet been perfected, to our knowledge), we have only so many “bullets” to fire. Currently we have 30 interceptors in place, with 14 more scheduled for deployment in 2018. The military would shoot more than one interceptor at a missile headed toward a large city, so in the event of a major attack, we would burn through all the bullets in our chamber pretty quickly. Perhaps more alarmingly, we cannot defend against a Chinese or Russian missile assault. They have more missiles than our system can handle, and Chinese and Russian missiles have countermeasures and decoys specifically designed to fool the U.S. system.

(7) The U.S. system is limited, but not because it’s too hard to build a better one. Its limited nature has to do with policy decisions. President Obama cut the Bush missile-defense budget by more than $1.5 billion in his first year in office. Each year he has cut more and more, bringing the top line of the budget to its lowest point since the creation of the Missile Defense Agency in 2002, and he has eliminated the most promising systems that many were confident would give U.S. missile defense major boosts in capability. And let us not forget that the ill-conceived Obama–Hillary Clinton Russian “reset” resulted in cancellation of the missile-defense sites in Europe in an effort to appease Russia and slow Iran’s nuclear program, neither of which was accomplished. The lack of support for missile defense on the far left is due to an opposition to it in principle. Indeed, when Obama was a senator, he said, “I do not believe in missile defense.” Missile-defense deniers need to face the science: It works, it’s real, and to fail to give the U.S. system the resources it needs, especially while our foes work diligently on their offensive capabilities, leaves U.S. cities exposed to missile attack; and those missiles could be armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

There is much the U.S. can learn from the Israeli conflict with Hamas. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons is the importance of understanding our enemies. We must see what their capabilities are and, while we still have time, develop the capabilities to provide ourselves with the proper defenses. Without missile defense, the only option the Israelis or Americans would have is to wait to get hit, and then retaliate.

In the words of the Gipper:

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies? I know this is a formidable technical task, one that may not be accomplished before the end of this century. . . . But isn’t it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is.

Don’t we?

Originally posted on National Review.

Liberal Politicians Spend a Week Living on Minimum Wage - Daily Signal

Liberal Politicians Spend a Week Living on Minimum Wage

Elizabeth Slattery / Marianela Toledo / Brandon Macknofsky / Rob Nikolewski / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Melissa Quinn / Jim DeMint / Rebeccah Heinrichs / Maggie Thurber /

Can a person survive on $77 a week?

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, are going to try.

The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change says $77 is how much a full-time worker earning the $7.25 federal minimum wage has to spend each week after taxes and housing expenses are paid.

It challenged leaders to try to live on minimum wage for a week. The theory is if lawmakers see how hard it is to live on minimum wage, they will vote to increase it. Strickland and Ryan already support raising the minimum wage to $10.10.

>>> How One State Made the Minimum Wage Meaningless

Ryan, whose congressional wage is $174,000 a year, says it’s important for elected officials to understand such issues in more than an intellectual way.

“A lot of times our friends in the tea party movement or in the conservative political movement try to marginalize these men and women who work extremely hard in many jobs that those of us in Congress wouldn’t dare dream of doing,” he said during a conference call announcing the challenge.

According to Rea Hederman, executive vice president of the Buckeye Institute, a free-market group in Ohio, the average household income for a minimum-wage earner is $65,900.

“They are not the breadwinners of the family,” said Hederman, a former analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “They are second-income earners, teens, college kids or seniors supplementing their retirement income.”

>>> More Than 500 Economists Agree with the CBO: $10.10 Minimum Wage Would Kill Jobs

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said wage hike supporters don’t make sense.

“How are you taking care of the poor by killing jobs?” he asked. “Compassion is an individual virtue, not a government one. You can’t be compassionate with other peoples’ money.”

Besides, he added, “Why are they stopping at $10.10? Why not $100 or $1,000 an hour?”

Tanner said since supporters readily admit a $100 an hour minimum wage would cost jobs, they’ve already conceded the principle and are now just quibbling over the numbers.