This week, House Republicans are putting forward a bill called the “Northern Route Approval Act.” This bill overrides the President’s authority to make decisions on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Whatever you think about the Keystone Pipeline, this bill is blatantly unconstitutional. The Constitution provides for a legislative branch, which creates legislation — laws of general application. It also provides for an executive branch, which executes the laws. This is known as the separation of powers. The bill that the Republicans are putting forward is a clear violation of this principle.
The bill does one more thing: it bestows special favors on a foreign oil company, TransCanada. It lets the corporation build the Keystone XL pipeline without going through normal government approval processes, and even gives TransCanada a free right-of-way worth millions of dollars. House Republicans have said they want to get rid of Congressional earmarks. Yet here they are, bestowing an earmark anyway.
I challenged the Republicans on these points. I made two arguments, and put forward what is known as a “privileged resolution” outlining them. One, the House cannot vote on a bill that is unconstitutional. And two, under the House Rules that the Republicans insisted on, the House cannot vote on a bill that is a clear earmark. Contrary to the House Rules, the Chairman ruled this privileged resolution “out of order.”
I’m no longer going to let the Republicans get away with claiming that they care about the Constitution when they trample all over it. And if they are going to cry about earmarks, they are going to have to justify why they want to bestow a special earmark on a foreign oil company.
No more free passes.
It’s time to fight back.
Rep. Alan Grayson