The failure of the Republican majority in Congress to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty this week has once again engendered bitterness among some conservatives toward the party’s leadership. Accusations that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell caved to Obama’s pressure are widespread, but the true cause of the failure to defund amnesty can be found within Senate traditions and the Constitution itself. The Constitution may also provide the ultimate solution to Obama’s executive overreach.
Because the authors of the Constitution distrusted a strong central government, they made it difficult to enact new laws. Because the framers worried that the majority might tyrannize a minority, they gave the president veto power over laws passed by Congress and the courts the right to strike down laws judged to be unconstitutional. Democratic filibusters must also be considered by Republican leaders, but it is the presidential veto that holds the greatest threat to the Republican agenda.