Should he survive the 2020 election himself, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may still head up a Republican-majority Senate but find he is powerless to stop a newly-elected Democratic president from reversing a plethora of policies implemented by Donald Trump.
According to a report from Politico, a handful of Democratic presidential nomination contenders are openly boasting that they will use presidential executive orders should they be elected– using a roadmap the Donald Trump has provided as he has forced through his own agenda.
“With Republicans likely to maintain control of the Senate in 2020 — and a new norm taking root after three successive administrations that aggressively wielded executive orders to make policy — Democratic candidates for president are starting to point more frequently to the ambitious things they’ll ram through on their own,” the report states, adding, “Campaign-trail pledges to sign executive orders aren’t new. But the frequency of the promises this year, and the expansive nature of them, mark a departure from practice.”
According to a Washington analyst, under Trump the system has become so toxic and polarized that governing by executive order has become a necessity.
“That’s basically the only way to govern now,” explained Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist. “It’s kind of a way of life. [With executive orders] you can actually get a lot done, and as we’ve seen with the Trump administration, you can do a lot of harm.”
The report notes that Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have not been shy about announcing their intentions to go around a Republican-controlled Senate if they have to — with both presidential contenders specifically mentioning using the executive power of the presidency to bring about immediate change.
“On a litany of policy issues ranging from immigration to environmental protections, Trump has infuriated Democrats with his executive actions. Democrats gained a legislative check on the president when they retook the House in last year’s midterm elections. But Democrats are pining for a presidential nominee who, if elected, will immediately set about undoing Trump’s work,” Politico reports.
“He or she will almost certainly have to accomplish that without the assistance of the Senate. Though Democrats have a narrow path to gaining a majority, it is more likely that Republicans will maintain control,” the report continues. “In the earliest stages of the presidential campaign, candidates have faced pressure from activists to outline what they will do in office without cooperation from Republicans.”
According to Les Francis, a deputy White House chief of staff in the Carter administration, making promises about executive orders is easier said than done — but can still happen.
“Talking about an executive order on the campaign trail is just a lot easier than accomplishing it through normal legislative procedures and processes, “he explained. “I think it’s more to appeal to various segments of the electorate – to rev people up issue by issue. It’s against a backdrop of dysfunctionality and paralysis to be sure. But I think it’s more, ‘How do you get people revved up?’”
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