21 Nov
2014
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Old Hickory and Obama

During the NYYRC’s monthly meeting last night, Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard gave an insightful talk about the midterm elections (we won!), and then talk turned to what Congressional Republicans should do in response to President Obama’s announcement that he was suspending deportations. Suggestions ranged from opposing President Obama’s judicial nominees to passing a budget that narrowly eliminates funding for the executive branch offices responsible for carrying out the President’s immigration wishes.

What about censure as a possibility?

Bear with me for a little bit of history. In addition to being Secretary of State and a perennial presidential candidate, Senator Henry Clay led the Congressional opposition to President Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson didn’t like the Bank of the United States, the antebellum version of the Federal Reserve. In 1832, he vetoed an act to renew the bank’s charter, and in 1834 – after he’d been re-elected –  he pulled all federal funds from the bank. Henry Clay, with a Senate majority behind him, passed a resolution demanding that Jackson turn over a document he’d read to his Cabinet on the bank issue.

Jackson refused, and Henry Clay and the anti-Jacksonians passed a Senate resolution censuring the President, reading, “Resolved that the President in the late Executive proceedings in relation to the public revenue, has assumed upon himself authority and power not confer’d by the Constitution and laws but in derogation of both.” Censuring the president was a step short of impeachment, for which was the political capital and number of Senators did not exist, but it adequately conveyed the Senate’s distaste for the President’s usurpations.

It was the only time that the Senate had passed censure on the President, although several Democrats did submit a bill censuring Clinton in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal. The bill failed to pass.

RS

Postscript- apparently I’m not alone in suggesting censure. Rep. Steven King of Iowa suggests the same thing: http://tinyurl.com/osq3l5f and as does the National Review’s John Fund: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/393212/censure-president-obama-john-fund

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