Katie Pavlich: Will a Republican Senate have the courage to rein in Obama?

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Today millions of Americans will cast their votes for candidates running in the 2014 midterm elections, and based on months of polling, it looks like Democrats will be having a bad night. 

If tonight goes as expected, Republicans will take over the Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be shifted to the minority. The GOP will gain more power in Congress with control of both the House and Senate. In theory, President Obama will lose some of his power because of the stronger majority opposition in both chambers, and he’ll no longer have Reid to cut off legislation from the House that derails or promotes debate about his big-government agenda. 

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Contrary to popular belief, we haven’t had a “do-nothing Congress” since 2010. Rather, we’ve had a do-nothing Democrat-controlled Senate, with Reid in charge for far too long. The Republican-controlled House has forwarded hundreds pieces of legislation, many of which Obama called for, to Reid’s side of Capitol Hill for debate, review and votes. They’ve been dead on arrival, while down the road, the president has stayed busy changing laws and issuing policies from his desk at the White House. 

Throughout his presidency, Obama has refused to work with Congress on a number of issues, ranging from ObamaCare changes to illegal immigration to military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, despite having the political odds and power of Democrats in his favor. His preference is to go at it alone. 

For the next two years, there’s no doubt Obama will frame a Republican majority as “more gridlock in Washington,” and attempt to justify executive action because he just “can’t get anything done.” Because this argument will be used repeatedly, it should be noted that the Founders of the country set up our system of government with gridlock as the rule, not the exception, in order to slow the growth, size and power of the federal government. Legislation was to be considered carefully and vigorously debated, not effortlessly pushed through and signed into law without much thought. 

Earlier this year, Jonathan Turley, professor of law at The George Washington University, testified in front of Congress about the relationship between Congress and Obama’s abuse of executive power. 

“The rate at which executive powers being concentrated in our system is accelerating,” he said, “and frankly, I am very alarmed by the implications of that aggregation of power. What also alarms me, however, is that the two other branches appear not just simply passive, but inert in the face of this concentration of authority. The fact that I happen to think the president is right on many of these policies does not alter the fact that I believe the means that he is doing is wrong, and that this can be a dangerous change in our system. 

“Our system is changing in a very fundamental way and it’s changing without a whimper of regret or opposition,” Turley said. “[The legislative branch] is the thumping heart of our system and it has lost a great deal of power and that power has largely been transferred to the executive branch.” 

During that testimony, Turley added Congress has “seemed feckless and uncertain as to its authority” and called on lawmakers to do their job to keep the president’s power in check. He was absolutely right. 

When Obama said in January, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward,” he wasn’t talking about just that moment in time, but the future as well. With a Republican majority, Obama’s executive overreach will only get worse. If Republicans win Tuesday night, Obama will be outnumbered 2-to-1. He won’t work with Republicans — instead, he’ll attack them from the corner he’s been backed into and will try to move forward with his agenda from the Oval Office. 

So the big question is, when the president abuses his executive authority by refusing to work with a Republican-dominated House and Senate moving forward, who will dare stop him? 

Republicans will no longer have the excuse that their party holds only a third of the power in government. Will Republicans take action to stop Obama’s executive abuse when they have the ability, power and options to do so? Will they have the courage to rein him in? To restore balance? Or will they instead sit around for the next two years and complain about an out-of-control president, or cave in the name of “bipartisanship” to Obama’s harsh words and criticism? 

A Republican takeover of the Senate would be a rejection of Obama’s abuse of power, a rejection of his agenda and a strong signal that executive overreach must be stopped. 

New senators, you have a big job to do. The balance of power must be restored. Don’t let the voters down.  

Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.