During Mike Huckabee’s Presidential Forum on Saturday night, Rick Perry repeatedly insisted that the president has the authority to block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, despite a recent Congressional Research Service report finding to the contrary. “The executive order obviously gives you that authority,” Perry repeated four different times to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who quizzed Perry on the executive branch’s authority to eliminate a law duly passed by Congress:
CUCCINELLI: You said if elected you would issue an executive order to block the implementation of the federal health care law. What is your authority to unilaterally invalidate a law passed by Congress and signed by the president?
PERRY: Well, obviously an executive order. [...]
CUCCINELLI: As a president, it sounds like you’re ready to simply use an executive order to void this law or large parts of it that you don’t agree with.
PERRY: Absolutely. And I think…
CUCCINELLI: What is your authority for that?
PERRY: The executive order obviously gives you that authority, but also as I said earlier, having men and women in those agencies that are going to share your philosophy…
CUCINELLI: You are taking the position that you can stop the implementation of a law passed by Congress, signed by the president, with an executive order?
PERRY: I am saying we can stop parts of it. The other parts of it, obviously would have to be done from the rules standpoint…
But a Congressional Research Service report out just last week found that while a president would be able to alter certain regulations, issuing waivers through executive authority would “likely conflict with an explicit congressional mandate and be viewed ‘incompatible with the express…will of Congress.’”
“A President would not appear to be able to issue an executive order halting an agency from promulgating a rule that is statutorily required by PPACA,” the report said. “A President would not appear to be able to issue an executive order halting statutorily-required programs or mandatory appropriations for a new grant or other program in PPACA.”