Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, as an American, you likely care about the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
The Department of Commerce, via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is directly violating a law that forbids it from using funds to transfer the Internet Domain Name contract away from United States oversight.
Congress should not enable an administration that picks and chooses which laws to follow. It should sue to enforce its Power of the Purse and reaffirm our system of checks and balances.
Americans for Tax Reform signed on to a coalition letter urging the United States Congress to do just that.
The following can be attributed to Americans for Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist:
“Congress has already won in court on the Obama Administration’s ‘inappropriate’ spending of funds to pay for the Affordable Care Act. Congress did not appropriate the cost-sharing provisions and the Administration went ahead and spent the money – that was found to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“Suing to enforce the appropriations rider, preventing the NTIA from spending funds towards the IANA transition and extending that rider through 2017, is important. It is a key battle in the fight to protect constitutionally separated powers.
“Both parties should have a real interest in protecting the Congressional Power of the Purse. If legislation is no longer binding, Congress forfeits a basic check on Executive power.”
This administration is setting the precedent for all future presidencies. The executive had bent, indeed broken, the rules and ignore Congressional protests. The NTIA’s action is another example.
In order to allow some pre-existing issues to be settled, Congress forbade the NTIA from using congressionally appropriated funds to go towards the transition. However, in 2016, the NTIA released a report indicating they were looking into, and dedicating resources to the transition. This is in violation of federal law prohibiting the NTIA from using funds in the years 2015 and 2016 to further the transition of the IANA contract.
Regardless of the numerous concerns surrounding IANA stewardship and the security issues with the transition, the NTIA’s action presents a threat to our democracy. The executive is ignoring a congressional appropriation. This is a signal of disrespect to the Constitution and separation of powers.
Lawmakers should unite behind suing to enforce the power of the purse, it’s most basic constitutionally enumerated check. Otherwise, legislation in Congress will be viewed as non-binding and the legislative branch’s power to check the executive will be greatly diminished.
The full text of the coalition letter can be found here.