Strengthening Checks and Balances

Limiting Executive Overreach

The Problem

The Problem

The executive branch has amassed too much power. Even though our system was designed to have three co-equal branches of government, today it’s far too easy for the president and other executive branch officials to circumvent Congress and act unilaterally on matters of great importance. While Congress sets the nation’s budget and declares our wars, presidents can spend funds without the approval of Congress, and they have the power to deploy troops and federal law enforcement. These authorities are ripe for abuse, especially since officials in the executive branch are able to act with little accountability. We’re urging Congress to enact reforms that would put better guardrails on executive power and ensure more robust oversight over the president and cabinet officials.

Collage of a person making a speech at a podium, government buildings, and the Secret Service
Quick Facts

Did you know?

Because CBP has a broad jurisdiction and can operate across so much of the United States, the executive branch can deploy officers to respond to civil unrest situations that have nothing to do with border security. In 2020, CBP officers sent to Portland, Oregon, arrested protesters and used excessive force.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has issued a series of legal memos declaring that certain current and former executive branch advisors are exempt from congressional subpoenas, hamstringing Congress’s ability to hold the executive branch accountable.

What’s at Stake

What’s at Stake

A Secretive DOJ Office Keeps Giving the President More Power

Over the past few decades, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department has issued a series of nonpublic legal opinions that have granted the executive branch more and more authority and shielded officials from accountability.

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National Emergency Powers Allow Presidents to Ignore Congress

The president can declare a national emergency with little say from Congress, granting the executive branch wide-ranging powers. This process is ripe for abuse by a president looking for a way use funds and authorities Congress would not support.

Laws Against Domestic Troop Deployment Have a City-Sized Loophole

The White House has the power to deploy National Guard troops to Washington, DC, without the consent of the city’s mayor. We saw the impact of this power in 2020, when National Guard helicopters were used to menace Black Lives Matter protesters.

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