The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Testifying in Congress on presidential overreach in foreign affairs


I will be testifying tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee, during a hearing of the Task Force on Executive Overreach examining "Executive Overreach in Foreign Affairs." The hearing will be streamed live and archived on the Judiciary Committee's website.

My written testimony—and that of fellow witnesses Steve Groves and Stephen Vladeck—is available here.

My testimony will focus on two issues that I have written about in this space: the Obama administration's noncompliance with the procedures necessary to lift Iran sanctions under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015; and its failure to defund a U.N. agency that accepted the Palestinian Authority as a member. These raise issues about the executive undermining Congress's foreign commerce and and spending powers, respectively.

As I explain in my testimony, the executive has very broad inherent power in foreign affairs, and Congress has augmented this further with broad delegations. It is not easy or common for the executive to overstep its constitutional bounds in this area—it takes a special effort. But these two recent issues suggest that the White House is prone to mistake broad authority to absolute authority (a trap Vladeck comes close to in his rather feisty testimony).