A Republican congressman from New York told Fox News over the weekend that President Obama’s proposal to fund the introduction of high-speed internet into every classroom is an affront to Congress and, by extension, the American people.
The proposal would increase consumers’ annual cell phone bills by about $4 per year for the next three years, and would raise the $4 billion to $6 billion needed to fund ConnectEd, a nationwide initiative to install high-speed connectivity in nearly every classroom in the country. Because the new charge would come in the form of an increase to an existing fee levied by the Federal Communications Commission — a decision that would ultimately be made independently of the administration — Congressional action is not required.
That does not sit well with Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY):
“He has an agenda and he’s going to do whatever he has to do to pass that agenda, regardless of the Constitution,” Grimm said. “I mean, I think our founding fathers are turning over in the graves right now because he’s just so blatant in his— the administrators, the people he puts in charge of these agencies are bold and brazen about saying, ‘yes, we’re going to make an end run around Congress.’”
The constitution does in fact grant the president the power to issue executive orders, though technically speaking, this doesn’t even qualify as an executive order, as the decision rests with the FCC itself and not the White House. If implemented, the fee will go towards sorely needed infrastructure improvements in thousands of classrooms across the country that currently don’t have access to high-speed internet. “You would think that connecting schools to the information superhighway would be a pretty noncontroversial topic,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told The Hill, “particularly when it’s something that could be accomplished through a relatively modest investment.”
Grimm’s feigned outrage over President Obama’s latest round of executive orders is an old canard of House Republicans. Earlier this year, after Congress failed to pass meaningful legislation to combat gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, Republicans threw a tantrum after the president issued more than 20 executive orders that took incremental steps towards curbing the sale and ownership of deadly weapons
But Obama is still well off the pace set by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush when it comes to the issuance of executive orders. Through his first term, Obama had signed just 147 Executive Orders, the fewest by a president in more than 100 years.