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Election 2020: 1 question, 15 answers. The power of the President

Washington DC, February 4 2020-President Donald J. Trump gives his third State of the Union address to the combined Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington. DC. Patsy Lynch/ MediaPunch /IPX
Washington DC, February 4 2020-President Donald J. Trump gives his third State of the Union address to the combined Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington. DC. Patsy Lynch/ MediaPunch /IPX

Stay informed with Shaw Local's Election Central. Research your ballot, where the candidates stand on the issues and set yourself up with a reminder to vote.

As a part of our Election Central questionnaire, we asked a series of similar questions to each candidate running for office.

As we tick closer to the election, we'll highlight one question, and the answers we received.

You can check out the answers the candidates provided to all of our questions at shawlocal.com/election.

Today, we'll present a question on the role of the office of the president itself, and the 17 people running for the House of Representatives in the state who answered the following question:

Many critics of governmental process complain that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump governed too much through executive orders rather than in collaboration with Congress.

Is our system in danger of veering toward authoritarianism? From a structural standpoint, does Congress need to place stronger limits on the power of the presidency? If so, be specific on what some of those limits might be. If not, please explain your view.

Marie Neman, Democrat, District 3: I strongly support increased anti-corruption legislation that would prevent some of the corruption and lack of transparency we have seen from the Trump administration. I believe that the president should be legally required to be completely transparent about financial investments including requiring presidents to release their tax returns. I also support legislation to eliminate partisan gerrymandering which would address polarization and gridlock in Congress, making it easier to pass legislation through Congress instead of by executive order. Finally, we should act in a bipartisan manner to pass laws that amortize war powers, protect national emergency response and other high impact actions across legislative and executive branches.

Mike Fricilone, Republican, District 3: I am not in favor of running a country by executive order, no matter who is the president. I believe in the American process of checks and balances, but clearly, we have much work to do to stop the stalemate of action in Washington. Part of the reason we have such a stalemate isn’t because of President Trump or President Obama, but rather it can be found in the halls of Congress. Congress should move to term limit both Senate and House leadership, this will foster more cooperation and most importantly, will allow Congress to more rapidly respond to the needs of the American people so that presidents aren’t forced to act on their own through executive order.

Mike Quigley, Democrat, District 5: portant legislation, big and small, has prompted recent presidents to try to work around Congress to enact their agenda, with dubious legality. Worse, by enabling them to do so, and turning a blind eye to even the most egregious abuses, McConnell has eroded the democratic foundations of our government. He must be replaced."}">There are many consequences to the gridlock that has crippled Washington, both for public policy and for the very functioning of our system. Certainly, President Trump has displayed autocratic tendencies and taken numerous actions that would have previously been unthinkable in a functioning democracy to politicize his office, cement his power, and enrich himself personally.

Important legislation, big and small, has prompted recent presidents to try to work around Congress to enact their agenda, with dubious legality. Worse, by enabling them to do so, and turning a blind eye to even the most egregious abuses, McConnell has eroded the democratic foundations of our government. He must be replaced. But he’s only been able to do these things because of his enablers in the House and Senate. Yes, Congress must place stronger limits on the executive by codifying ethics rules and other norms that have been destroyed by this president. But Congress must also assert itself as a co-equal branch. Legal protections and constitutional checks and balances are of no consequence if they aren’t invoked and enforced. Senator Mitch McConnell, through his unprecedented inaction on hundreds of pieces of important legislation, big and small, has prompted recent presidents to try to work around Congress to enact their agenda, with dubious legality. Worse, by enabling them to do so, and turning a blind eye to even the most egregious abuses, McConnell has eroded the democratic foundations of our government. He must be replaced.

Tommy Hanson, Republican, District 5: IF they had a workable Congress, they wouldn't have had to govern by executive order. If anything, Congress needs to impose some checks and balances on themselves so that issues don't become a stalemate but are able to be resolved on all levels.

Sean Casten, Democrat, District 6: l effect of taking something that was in Congress’s jurisdictional control and shifting the authority for that action to the Executive branch. Solving this will not be easy nor quick, but ultimately requires Congressional will to assume full responsibility for those problems."}">We are long overdue for a rebalancing of the relative power of the Executive and Legislative branches. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to move from a unitary executive and toward the system of checks and balances established by our founders. Executive Orders are a part of this problem, but more because of the lack of consistency they create; what one President can create by E.O. can be eliminated by the next.

l effect of taking something that was in Congress’s jurisdictional control and shifting the authority for that action to the Executive branch. Solving this will not be easy nor quick, but ultimately requires Congressional will to assume full responsibility for those problems."." This has confused our allies, such as when President Obama signed the Paris Climate Accord, which they thought represented a commitment on behalf of the United States, only to see it revoked by President Trump. When Congressional stagnation, like that of a McConnell-led Senate, denies the legislature the ability to solve problems, too often the answer falls to the latter. This has the practical effect of taking something that was in Congress’s jurisdictional control and shifting the authority for that action to the Executive branch. Solving this will not be easy nor quick, but ultimately requires Congressional will to assume full responsibility for those problems.

l effect of taking something that was in Congress’s jurisdictional control and shifting the authority for that action to the Executive branch. Solving this will not be easy nor quick, but ultimately requires Congressional will to assume full responsibility for those problems.

Jeanne Ives, Republican, District 6: Did not answer our questions.

Bill Redpath, Libertarian, District 6: Not being so focused on “constituent services,” and by stepping up to be the primary branch of government that the Founding Fathers intended. .I agree that the use of Executive Orders has gotten out of control under both Obama and Trump. Congress needs to reassert itself in several areas. Most notably, the Congress needs to reclaim the War Power. The Founding Fathers rightfully decided that the decision to go to war should be by committee. Far too much power to unilaterally set tariffs has been ceded to the President by Congress and that needs to be taken back. Congress has passed the buck on too many difficult decisions to the Administrative State. The US Senate never voted on the Paris Climate Treaty that Obama signed. Congress can’t pass a budget, so they appoint a national commission on deficit reduction—then ignore the recommendations of the commission, because they were too politically difficult to adopt. Congress should curtail the power of the Presidency by not ducking the hard issues, not being so focused on “constituent services,” and by stepping up to be the primary branch of government that the Founding Fathers intended.

Jan Schakwosky, Democrat, District 9: led an attorney general who acts like the President’s personal attorney and not the attorney for the people. He has surrounded himself in the West Wing with family members and cronies. "}">There is the danger in every society to veer towards authoritarianism. It is American civics 101, but our nation’s founders drafted our Constitution to prevent just that – and it has been an overwhelming success. We never had to fear our democracy unfolding until Donald Trump took office and jettisoned our presidential norms and traditions we took for granted. There is no doubt that without constitutional guard rails, President Trump would almost certainly take the necessary actions outside of the democratic process to secure his position of power. He’s said it out loud – he has even run social media ads suggesting he and his family should control America for generations to come. Right now, the President is trying to manipulate an election and he’s attempting it in broad daylight – just look at the situation with mail-in ballots and the Post Office. He has installed an attorney general who acts like the President’s personal attorney and not the attorney for the people. He has surrounded himself in the West Wing with family members and cronies.

Sargis Sangari, Repubican, District 9: There are already checks and balances in place. Congress needs to do its job! The same as the executive and the judiciary branches do their jobs.

Valerie Ramirez Mukherjee, Republican, District 10: Presidents would not have to use executive orders if Congress did their job, and no, Congress does not need to limit Presidential powers. Executive orders are a symptom, not the cause, of the extreme polarization of politics and misguided focus in Congress. For example, Congressman Schneider has been in office for 6 years and raised almost $20,000,000 to get elected. What are his RESULTS? Nothing. 0 of his sponsored bills have become law yet during that time 624 laws sponsored by his peers have become laws.

So he is 6 years, $20,000,000 raised, and 0 of 624. He's not alone though. You have performers and underperformers just like you would in any industry. But the difference is in Congress the underperformers get away with it if they can be a star fundraiser – like Congressman Schneider and his low performing peers who chair the Democratic fundraising arm with him – another IL member of Congress. The media tends to focus on fundraising quarterly rather than publishing who is getting stuff done. And our voters suffer the consequences of that. If we change our attention to results, I think we could change the effectiveness of Congress rather quickly.

Brad Schneider, Democrat, District 10: Money in campaigns, bolstering voting rights protections, and limiting corporate influence, the For the People Act would make our government more responsive and effective in making progress for the American people, and less susceptible to authoritarianism. For now more than a generation preceding Obama and Trump, Congress has ceded too much power to the executive branch and we need to take back our authority. We need to get back to a robust system of checks and balances as envisioned by our Founders. For example, we must update the War Powers Act and reauthorize existing AUMFs. Finally, we need to expand Congress’s enforcement of its oversight duties. The American people deserve better from Washington in total.

oney in campaigns, bolstering voting rights protections, and limiting corporate influence, the For the People Act would make our government more responsive and effective in making progress for the American people, and less susceptible to authoritarianism. The most important governmental reform that the House has worked on this Congress is H.R. 1, the “For the People Act” to clean up corruption and restore public trust in our government. I am thrilled that this legislation includes a bill I previously introduced to strengthen the firewall between public service and corporate lobbying. Coupled with other reforms, including restricting the influence of dark money in campaigns, bolstering voting rights protections, and limiting corporate influence, the For the People Act would make our government more responsive and effective in making progress for the American people, and less susceptible to authoritarianism.

Bill Foster, Democrat, District 11: I agree with this objection. We are paying the price of for relying too heavily on executive orders and an assumption of good faith on both sides. For example, nobody believed we needed a law that all presidential candidates must reveal their Tax Returns, because for 40 years all serious candidates had done so; now it is clear we need a law that the IRS should make these Tax Returns public the moment any candidate files for office.

Popular measure even when the Speaker is opposed. A dysfunctional Congress only encourages executive over-reach. The constitutionally contentious DACA program was only initiated after Republican House leadership blocked even a vote on the DREAM Act, which was supported by the majority of the House and over 80% of Americans. In this case, I believe the most constructive reform would be to strengthen the process for Discharge Petitions in the House. These can force a vote on a popular measure even when the Speaker is opposed.

Rick Laib, Republcan, District 11: I'm not persuaded to believe that limitations are necessary. If limitations should be considered, it would be to reduce the reach of the President simply by reducing the size of government.

Lauren Underwood, Democrat, District 14: versight duties out of loyalty to the president, our democracy is undermined. Authoritarian governments require submission to the executive, and unfortunately, that is what I have seen from many of my Republican colleagues in Congress. One of the problems I identified during my campaign for this office in 2018 was the Congress' staggering lack of oversight over the Trump Administration. My Republican colleagues have been negligent in exercising oversight over the Administration's use of taxpayer dollars and fidelity to the law; their refusal to step up and do their oversight duties represents an unacceptable dereliction of duty.

Oversight duties out of loyalty to the president, our democracy is undermined. Authoritarian governments require submission to the executive, and unfortunately, that is what I have seen from many of my Republican colleagues in Congress.

I'm shocked that my Republican colleagues didn't immediately begin oversight hearings when we began seeing images of children held in cages on our border. We've seen this extreme partisanship before, and it's bad for our democracy. I've taken the opposite approach. While I disagree with President Trump on nearly everything, I'm still willing to work where we agree. Our democracy is built on a set of checks and balances. When members of Congress refuse to conduct their oversight duties out of loyalty to the president, our democracy is undermined. Authoritarian governments require submission to the executive, and unfortunately, that is what I have seen from many of my Republican colleagues in Congress.

Jim Oberweis, Republican, District 14: Did not respond to our questions.

Cheri Bustos, Democrat, District 17: istration to be blocked from testifying on key issues or releasing critical documents, such as in the case of this Administration's abuse of the small refinery waivers that undercut demand for our farmers. These are just a few examples of why Congress must reassert the power of the institution and do what is best for our country, rather than for a political party."}">Governing by executive order does not allow for continuity of operations and regulations between administrations, often leading to dangerous swings in policy. This is often the result of Congress failing to unite and carry out our duty to chart long-term paths forward for our country. On a bipartisan basis, we must do better. Congress must reassert our Constitutional powers, pass budgets and Appropriations bills on time and put a stop to open-ended authorization of the use of military forces; if we are going to war, Congress must vote.

We should limit the ability to transfer Congressionally-appropriated funding to different Administrative accounts, which have jeopardized priorities in our own district, and strengthen our ability to practice oversight of the Administration. We should never allow members of the Administration to be blocked from testifying on key issues or releasing critical documents, such as in the case of this Administration's abuse of the small refinery waivers that undercut demand for our farmers. These are just a few examples of why Congress must reassert the power of the institution and do what is best for our country, rather than for a political party.

Esther Joy King, Repubican, District 17: America was built and has thrived through the system of checks and balances and the three branches of government: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. Not one should have more power or be subservient to the other. Yet, we cannot allow for partisan politics within Congress to be used to negatively influence or determine how it acts as a branch of our government. Yet, in its role, Congress needs to do the job our constituents send us to Washington, D.C., to do.

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