Rep. Ellison: ‘Not Constitutionally Proper’ for Congress To Give Its Authority to Executive Branch

By Eric Scheiner | March 27, 2015 | 3:02pm EDT


Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says when it comes to fast-tracking President Obama’s trade agreements, “it’s not constitutionally proper or right for us to give the authority to the executive, no matter who it is.”

Ellison told a crowd at the AFL-CIO Young Worker Summit last Friday that he doesn’t agree with the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “Fast Track” measure.

“Now Fast Track says that ‘Congress, we want you to take your constitutionally designated authority and give it to the president, so he can negotiate the deal and then after he does, then you can vote yes or no,’” Ellison said.

“The Constitution gave Congress the authority to negotiate and work on trade agreements because trade agreements affect local communities all across this country. It’s not constitutionally proper or right for us to give the authority to the executive, no matter who it is.”

“Let me tell you, 95 percent of the time I agree with President Obama. There’s five percent on this thing – I’m not with that, but usually we agree,” Ellison continued.

“We supported him on the executive orders on immigration, we supported him on the executive orders to stop wage theft, we supported him on a lot of things, but this – we’re not with that program.”

Passage of TPA would allow the president unilateral power to negotiate two major trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and then put the deal on a "fast track" through Congress. Lawmakers can give it a yes-or-no vote, but are not allowed to amend or filibuster the deal.

Despite criticism that the president does not have the constitutional authority to refuse to enforce immigration law through his executive actions, Ellison has been a vocal supporter of President Obama on this matter.

Ellison even co-authored a letter to the White House calling for executive action on immigration, saying, “The Congressional Progressive Caucus calls on President Obama to provide comprehensive relief to immigrants residing in our nation through executive action. Expansive and robust action that addresses the economic, family, community and national problems we now face is urgently needed.”

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