Congressional Institute President Mark Strand writes in an oped published by The Hill that there may be just one thing standing between taxpayers and the unconstitutional student loan bailout: a Republican Congress.
For years, Congress has been loath to conduct proper oversight of the Executive Branch. Speaker Pelosi even said last year that the only way to lawfully provide student loan relief would be through legislation, but that didn’t stop her from embracing President Biden’s unilateral action. Since the House is not likely to take any such legislative action under Pelosi, the best chance to stop this bailout is for a Republican House to sue on the grounds that the White House’s overreach violates the House’s constitutional duties. From the oped:
“Unless the Congress and the courts check unconstitutional presidential actions, there is no limit to executive authority. Members of both parties should jealously guard their Constitutional powers, because without them, no matter who is in the White House, we create an imperial presidency that makes Congress an irrelevant part of our government.”
The basis for a lawsuit is found in actions taken by former Speaker John Boehner who was authorized by a vote of the House to file suit against the Obama Administration. It’s important to note that individual lawmakers did not have legal standing to sue but rather, the Court found that the institution of House as a whole did. Strand wrote:
“In 2014, President Obama reassigned appropriations for ObamaCare without congressional authorization. Individual members of Congress historically have not had standing to file suit. So then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) developed a legal doctrine that allowed the entire House, by a majority vote, to claim standing since its Constitutional powers were being infringed upon.”
It’s also important to note that the “Boehner Doctrine” is bipartisan since, Strand noted, Pelosi used it to oppose to file suit on behalf of the House to block President Trump’s border wall.
In a much more in-depth blog post posted here, Strand mentions that the House could file a discharge petition that would require action if 218 lawmakers sign onto it. Several Democrats, particularly those facing difficult re-elections or looking to elevate themselves to the U.S. Senate, have made public statements opposing or raising concerns about the White House’s student loan bailout. If they were truly concerned, they could “put their money where their press releases are,” as Strand said in the oped, and demand action. But politics being what they are, it’s more likely that Bigfoot will emerge from the woods than the Democratic-controlled House stand up to their own White House.