Jackson Lee rewrites ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ on how bills become law

Lawmaker begins writing executive orders, not legislation

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The words to “Schoolhouse Rock” might need an update if Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is right. The campy animated shorts from the 1970s, among other things, helped children learn how laws are made.

In “I’m just a bill,” an anthropomorphic piece of legislation named Bill sang a catchy tune about how things used to be done.

“Well, now I’m stuck in committee,” the song went, “and I sit here and wait, while a few key congressmen discuss and debate, whether they should let me be a law. How I hope and pray that they will, but today, I’m still just a bill.” Mrs. Jackson Lee is tired of waiting.

In remarks made before the Congressional Full Employment Caucus late last month, the Texas Democrat said there’s a new way of getting things done in Washington.

“We’ll give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength,” she said in a video obtained by the Media Research Center. These executive orders “should be our No. 1 priority,” she added in addressing fellow lawmakers — or perhaps that should be former lawmakers.

Instead of persuading a majority of her House and Senate colleagues about the wisdom of her bill so it can be duly passed and presented to the president for his signature or veto, Mrs. Jackson Lee finds it more efficient to cut out the middleman.

Why bother with Congress when she only needs to convince one man, the president? There’s no need for laws when the White House is willing to act through executive orders.

The far-left measures Mrs. Jackson Lee favors are the sort that could never win enough support in the House and Senate, but they could, to use Clinton administration adviser Paul Begala’s infamous formulation, become the “law of the land” with a “stroke of a pen.”

Democrats clearly have taken inspiration from Mr. Obama’s “pen and phone” declaration last month describing his intention to do an end run around Congress through executive actions.

That impulse was given further expression at Monticello this week where Mr. Obama told French President Francois Hollande, “The good thing as president, I can do whatever I want.” It was treated by some as a laugh line, but it was a window into the psyche of a president who prefers going it alone to compromising with Congress.

To date, Republicans have done little more than grumble about the president’s trampling of the separation of powers.

“We have an increasingly lawless presidency, where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress,” Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, complained on ABC’s “This Week.” “Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does.”

The question then becomes, what are Republicans prepared to do about it? “Schoolhouse Rock” once taught, “It’s not easy to become a law, is it?” Now it is.

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