Democratic Senator: 'Much of Progressive Agenda is Going to Be Driven' by Obama Using Executive Power

January 29, 2013 - 12:30 PM

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says that he believes President Obama in his second term will drive the progressive agenda forward with a more aggressive use of executive power.

“We’re going to see a president of the United States use his executive powers as much as he’s allowed to under federal law and under the Constitution, in a more aggressive way than last time,” Brown said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Brown added, “You’re going to see the president use the executive powers that are within his constitutional legal authority. I think much of the progressive agenda is going to be driven that way.”

Obama, who recently issued 23 executive orders on gun control, indicated to The New Republic that congressional legislation is a preferred method of operation, not because of the  constitutional separation of powers but because a congressionally passed statute was stronger than an executive order.

“I continue to believe that whenever we can codify something through legislation, it is on firmer ground,” Obama said. “It's not going to be reversed by a future president. It is something that will be long lasting and sturdier and more stable.”

The president later said, “What I do see is that there are certain issues where a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate-enough import that we can't afford not to do it.”

Also, during an interview on MSNBC last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), said he anticipates that much of the progressive agenda in Obama’s second term will be driven by executive power.

Obama Guns

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, talks about proposals to reduce gun violence at the White House in Washington, Jan. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Obama’s use of executive power has been of concern to members of Congress. During Obama’s first term, the administration decided not to enforce immigration laws against illegal aliens under the age of 30 who were in the United States before they were 16; issued waivers to the work requirement in the welfare reform law; and made recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess.

Obama cited lifting the ban on open homosexuals in the military as an example of ensuring Congress played a role.

“So a great example of that is the work we did on ‘don't ask, don't tell,’” he told The New Republic.  “There were advocates in the LGBT community who were furious at me, saying, ‘Why don't you just sign with a pen ordering the Pentagon to do this?’”

“And my argument was that we could build a coalition to get this done, that having the Pentagon on our side and having them work through that process so that they felt confident they could continue to carry out their missions effectively would make it last and make it work for the brave men and women, gays and lesbians, who were serving not just now but in the future,” said Obama.

And the proof of the pudding here is that not only did we get the law passed, but it's caused almost no controversy,” he said. “It's been almost thoroughly embraced, whereas had I just moved ahead with an executive order, there would have been a huge blowback that might have set back the cause for a long time.”

“But what I do see is that there are certain issues where a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate-enough import that we can't afford not to do it,” Obama said.

“And today, just to take an example, the notion that we wouldn't be collecting information on gun violence just to understand how it happens, why it happens, what might reduce it—that makes no sense,” Obama said.  “We shouldn't require legislation for the CDC to be able to gather information about one of the leading causes of death in the United States of America.”