Mike Lee

Mike Lee: 'Every Conceivable Partisan Combination' Has 'Deviated From' Federalism

"This isn't a partisan issue," the Utah senator says. "This is a constitutional issue."



Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah) said today that under both Republicans and Democrats, the United States has "deviated from" the principles of federalism and separation of powers.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Utah senator did suggest that things have gotten better since Barack Obama left the presidency. But he still thought there was plenty of blame to go around. Praising both "the vertical protection of federalism that keeps most of the power close to the people at the state and local level" and "the horizontal protection of separation of powers that says we're going to have one branch that makes the laws, another branch that enforces them, and yet another branch that interprets them," Lee warned that America has "deviated from both of those principles under the leadership of Houses of Representatives, of Senates, and White Houses of every conceivable partisan combination."

Lee took particular issue with Obama, noting his actions regarding U.S. involvement in Libya and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lee didn't single out Donald Trump's attempt to use a national emergency declaration to build a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border. He did point out that Democrats blasting Trump's move on constitutional grounds, such House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), did not similarly criticize Obama.

"This isn't a partisan issue," Lee said. "This is a constitutional issue, and it is an absolute imperative for our freedom."

Lee has previously said he believes Trump's national emergency declaration is likely legal. "Whether or not it should be legal is a different matter," he said in a statement earlier this month. "Congress has been ceding far too much power to the exec. branch for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunity to start taking that power back."

Bonus link: In July, Lee spoke with Reason's Matt Welch on a variety of topics, including congressional dysfunction: