Podesta's challenge puts EPA funding on hot seat

White House senior adviser John Podesta threw down the gauntlet to congressional Republicans on attempts to minimize damage being done to the economy by President Obama's environmental regulations. "All I would say is that those have zero percent chance of working. We're committed to moving forward with those rules," he said. "We're committed to maintaining the authority and the president's authority to ensure that the Clean Air Act is fully implemented."

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Beyond the audacity and inappropriateness of a presidential adviser weighing in on an agency's regulatory work before the finalization of any regulation, at its core the statement by the former head of the far-left Center for American Progress demonstrates a complete disregard for congressional prerogative.

Since Podesta seems to feel that the executive branch holds a magic power wand, exempt from the legislative branch's oversight, I thought I'd remind him of the way the Constitution is supposed to work in the hopes that those in the legislative branch take their responsibilities to heart.

Congress has the power of the purse, and can defund any aspect of the federal government that they choose, which includes Podesta's unelected, unconfirmed position, as well as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation-writers and enforcement activity on any regulation. All they need is the will to do it.

Perhaps Podesta's hubris-laden contempt for Congress will finally force the legislative branch to target Obama's elitist environmental policies that are destroying America's middle class. The president cannot force Congress to fund anything. He can veto legislation that does not contain funding he desires, shutting down the government in a green tantrum, but he cannot spend a dime that Congress does not appropriate. This is why, if the Senate swings Republican after the 2014 election, Congress should make Podesta eat his words.

This year, the House needs to spend time identifying areas within the EPA and Departments of Interior and Energy that should be stripped of funding in preparation for possible Republican control of the Senate in 2015. If Republicans win the Senate, the job is easier, but even if they only still control the House, the job is not impossible if the House majority decides to assert its authority and refuses to give funding to Obama's pet programs without specific regulatory changes.

It can be done, and if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were Speaker and the shoe were on the other foot, she would do it.

The only question is whether congressional Republicans will collectively muster the testosterone that runs through her veins and stand up for our nation's workers against those who sacrifice good-paying middle class, blue-collar jobs in an attempt to redistribute our nation's wealth to the rest of the world.

Podesta has called out congressional Republicans, and he is betting that they will curl up in a ball and tepidly accept the new post-constitutional reality being imposed by Obama. For the sake of the future of our nation's constitutional separation of powers, let's hope he is wrong.

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Contact him at rmanning@getliberty.org.