President Obama is seeking power the Constitution has assigned to Congress. Soon, he will formally ask Congress to surrender its constitutional authority and grant him “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority.
And House Republicans are inexplicably ready to give it to him.
Members of Congress who take our Constitution seriously will follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and Just Say No.
Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution assigns Congress the exclusive responsibility to set the terms of “commerce with foreign nations” — trade. The Founders established this clear check and balance to prevent the president from unilaterally negotiating deals that reward his supporters while harming opponents or the nation as a whole.
Under Fast Track, Obama would be able to sign commercial trade agreements before Congress votes on them. Congress would not even be able to amend the agreements in any way — it would only have an up-or-down vote when the president says so, before members could even read it.
While Congress has delegated authority to presidents in the past, it was based on the premise that the legislative branch could trust the executive branch to respect Congress’ constitutional role. This administration has breached that trust.