• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Obama Waives Congress Away

    “Congress hasn’t been able to do it, so I will.” With this bold statement, President Obama announced last Friday that he would unilaterally replace the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with conditions-based waivers. Obama’s waiver strategy is an alarming misuse of executive power that undermines the separation of powers.

    In and of itself, the use of waivers is not unconstitutional. Congress has the authority to create laws with provisions that allow the President to grant exceptions in certain circumstances. NCLB does, for instance, authorize the Secretary of Education to grant waivers to applicants that meet certain criteria. However, waivers are not written as blank checks of authority for the President to bypass Congress and enact new policy.

    In this case, the President is using waivers to rewrite the law. The Obama waivers go far beyond the measures allowed by NCLB. To receive a waiver, states must agree to implement a new set of goals and programs determined not by Congress, but by the White House.

    For months, President Obama and Congressional Republicans have disagreed on how to reform NCLB. There are major problems with the law’s intrusive regulations. But the Obama administration decided that the “do-nothing Congress” could not be trusted to act and so the President is acting without them.

    But co-opting the waiver power to craft a new laws designed in and implemented by the White House is a departure from the constitutional separation of powers.

    Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to craft the nation’s laws and to reform those laws when they do not work as planned. The executive is authorized to carry out the laws passed by Congress. But this can be quite bothersome for a President if Congress doesn’t see things his way.

    The President does have a proper constitutional role to play in the legislative process. The President has the power to veto or sign a bill. Furthermore, as permitted by the recommendation clause of Article 1, Section 3, the President may recommend legislation to Congress. This is does not mean that the President can unilaterally create law as if by royal edict. To become law, legislation (even when recommended by the President) must first pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President. This process ensures that any law will be subject to deliberation by both the nationally elected President and the Congressmen who are more attuned to the particular interests and concerns of the local communities they represent.

    Both congressional Republicans and president Obama acknowledge that NCLB is a flawed law. While it may be tempting to seek a quick fix to this sprawling and unpopular program that avoids a partisan battle, misusing waivers to enact new policy without the consent of the elected representatives in Congress is not the way to address the issue.

    Posted in Education, Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Obama Waives Congress Away

    1. Patti says:

      So, what else is new? He has no respect for our government or our founding documents.

    2. Chris in N.Va. says:

      L'etat, c'est moi!

    3. Charles K says:

      And you wonder why the approval rate for Congress is 13%………They have no backbone and are letting Obama run all over them.

    4. Jarek says:

      I thought congress had an approval rate of 13% because for the simple reason the left and right all hate each other, refuse to compromise, and would rather jeopardise the country then let the other side "win".

      Oh but no….Obama is bad, he's had forced congress to do whatever he wants it to, has it wrapped around his little finger….

      I also love how no one has the ability to think for themselves these days. Certainly have respect for the founding documents, however learn to form your own opinion and think for yourselves instead of being drip fed whatever rhetoric is on the news these days.

    5. Slick says:

      WHO is going to stop this kind of abuse of power? This POTHUS has done this kind of thing since Day One of his taking office, and it is quite apparent that NO ONE has the guts or the power to protect the American people from this abuse of power. This is EXACTLY the reason that we cannot tolerate another four years of Big O!!!!

    6. jweb says:

      Nothing new here…but who is he working for? He took America, land of the free and home of the brave, into an invasion/attack on Libya per a UN influence. Come on folks! We have been hijacked for decades. Forget Obama, who are the puppeteers? Who are the puppeteers looking to use in the Republican primaries? Obama talked big during his campaign, yet he continued the "Bush policies" he previously critized. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney…please, Ron Paul is the only canidate feared by the establishment. His 30 year voting record proves it. Why do you think the mainstream media (presstitutes) are blacking him out. He is only permitted to speak at the debates 4 or 5 minutes. My fellow Americans, stand up and take the words of the Pledge of Alligence more seriously and demand those that took the oath to uphold the Constitution more seriously as well.

    7. AD-RtR/OS! says:

      Repeal NCLB, and replace all Federal funding to the States, and local districts, with vouchers in the name of individual students throughout America.

    8. Bruno Behrend says:

      This is a perfect opportunity for Congress to defund NCLB entirely.

    9. kay says:

      Jarek, It is my contention that we the people who are not to lazy to think for ourselves, are the ones the rhetoric is being written for . I dont read crap, and if its Obamanomics it is. I am 50 yrs old and I feel that I know my own mind. Congress has sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution but they are not. succeding in any meaningful way. I dont even see much effort! Congress is unpopular because they are either crooks or cowards, either way they have failed the people! Obama is a Marxist idiot and he has advanced his agenda against the will of the people to the detriment of us all! Those thoughts were all my own, reasoned through my experience and judgement. You are free to disagree and say so, but then who is the sheep ?

    10. We need to move forward!

      It is time to have a 21st century education reform. This is why we started the No Child Held Back concept.
      To learn more go to http://www.nochildheldback.com.

      We would love to get feedback and opinions of real educators and other interested people…

      • Bobbie says:

        I'd like to know why 21st century education needs federal regulation? This is regression. Education would be fine without the interference of the noneducational infiltration of unions and fed government regulations!

    11. Bill says:

      Education needs to be in the hands of the local school boards and the states, not the federal government. The Feds have thrown billions of dollars at the education system, and it worse off now then it has ever been.

      Congress is also too blame for this mess. They are the ones that pass these laws that give some bureaucrat the power to write the rules and grant these so-called waivers.

    12. Dave says:

      Its time to just impeach Obama, stop waiting. Get him out of the White House now!

    13. Ken says:

      What's important in this article isn't "NCLB". That's just the most recent subject du jour. The point is that Obama is continuing to ignore the Constitution and do everything in his power to be a dictator. He is dangerous and Congress either won't or can't do anything about it. It is up to us, folks! We have one more election before this country ceases to exist as a Constitutional Republic. If we get out in force and vote these socialists out, we can, in the words of Ben Franklin, "keep it". If we don't, we have only ourselves to blame. What'll it be?

    14. RennyG says:

      I found the "procedure" of the way congress approves things is wrong. What the public does not see what is causing the difficulity is "what other bills are attached" to the one that is trying to get passed. I am sorry, but my little mind can handle only one thing at a time, but you know what, it will get done. If I am trying to do "A" and you come along and want me to do "B,C,D," at the same time, "It just won't get done!!!"
      THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM!!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×