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Two Utah lawmakers are supporting a move to give more power to Congress.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee says Congress has delegated away too much of its constitutionally reserved power. At the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics on Thursday, Lee pitched "The Article 1 Project" a network of lawmakers with the goal of writing and passing bills aimed at restoring the balance of three co-equal branches of government. Lee said over the last couple decades Congress has ceded too much of its rule-making authority to the executive branch.
Lee said the project backed by FreedomWorks, a conservative Washington advocacy group that helped spark the tea-party movement will focus on four main areas: regaining congressional power, avoiding crisis governing with the use of legislative "cliffs," reining in regulators and curbing executive power.
Lee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Okla., are the prime movers of the effort, but Utah Congresswoman Rep. Mia Love joined Lee Thursday in advocating the project, saying she wants to put the power in back in the hands of the people.
"Washington is not working for you, you are working for Washington," Love said.
Love pushed her current legislation to restrict bills to one subject, preventing lawmakers from attaching their pet projects to a bill. She said this would help avoid stalemates in the chamber.
Lee and Love expressed most concern about the growing number of rules and regulations created by "unelected bureaucrats." Lee said they can make rules that have a binding effect on people's lives without ever having to be held accountable. Lee wants more congressional oversight on the rules the regulators make. They targeted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created in the wake of the Great Recession, and over which Congress has little control.
He criticized the "one-size-fits-all approach" that he believes some regulators take.
"What works in Florida, may not be the best for Utah," Lee said.
He is currently pushing a proposal that would require any "major rule" to be voted on the House and Senate. He said the bill has provisions to force a vote to avoid any stall tactics.
Some U. students asked why Congress should be trusted with more power given that polls show its approval rating in the toilet.
Lee said members of Congress are elected and if voters disagree with their decisions, they can vote them out.
"Washington should put its trust in the American people," Love said.