The government's job is simple: to protect freedom and promote free markets. And the Republican Party — which currently controls both chambers of the U.S. Congress — bills itself as the party of individual responsibility and economic growth. Furthermore, in 2011 and again in 2015, the GOP obtained its legislative power because the American people were fed up with the Obama administration's overreach.


Unfortunately, upon arriving in Washington, far too many Republicans have decided to follow the path of accommodation and appeasement rather than standing on principle — and standing for the people who put them in office. This "go along to get along" mentality — championed by far too many GOP leaders — has empowered Obama's liberal, rogue bureaucracies on multiple fronts.

One of these is the "great Internet giveaway" — Obama's effort to surrender effective control of the World Wide Web to a group of multinational corporate interests and nonprofits (or if that fails, a United Nations bureaucracy).

President Obama's Commerce Department — specifically the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) — wants to take the Web's most essential operational functions and cede them to the "global Internet community." Among these core functions are the resources provided by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which coordinates all of the Internet's globally unique identifiers (domain names, number resources, protocol assignments, etc.). This is literally the nuts and bolts of the web; its essential underlying architecture. Currently, the U.S. Department of Commerce contracts out responsibility for IANA to a Los Angeles-based nonprofit called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

This relationship has secured a free and open Internet for nearly two decades, driving innovation and preventing censorship of content. Why would Obama want to undo that? According to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a staunch supporter of Internet freedom, the proposed giveaway is yet another attempt by the administration to undermine U.S. sovereignty — in the process, "jeopardizing the freedoms of billions of citizens the world over."

"The Commerce Department's proposal to transfer control of the World Wide Web to the 'global Internet community' is consistent with President Obama's desire to promote multi-lateralism over America's national interests," Jindal wrote last year.

Prominent Democrats have also rebuked the proposed giveaway, with former President Clinton saying Obama's so-called "global community" actually consists of "governments that want to gag people and restrict access to the Internet."

For these and other reasons, Congress expressly forbade Obama from undertaking his proposed transfer during fiscal year 2015. That prohibition expires on Sept. 30, though, and some Republicans — including House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills House committee advances legislation to secure telecom networks against foreign interference Hillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract MORE (R-Ore.) — are now trying to weasel out of their obligation to protect the Web's freedom, safety and security.

Walden has advanced to the floor of the House what is being construed as tacit congressional authorization of Obama's proposed giveaway. Such legislation is a shell game, and should not be seriously considered unless it expressly prohibits the administration from moving forward with its plans without the explicit consent of Congress.

Why does such consent matter? A little thing called the U.S. Constitution — which holds in Article Four, Section Three that only "Congress shall have the power to dispose of ... property belonging to the United States."

Obama's administration — always on the lookout for ways to circumvent Congress and the Constitution — has rebuked this obligation, claiming "no government property or assets are involved in the contract" with ICANN. Really? The most recent government contract with ICANN clearly states that "all deliverables under this contract become the property of the U.S. government."

That means Obama's intended transfer is subject to federal property laws, which Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyOn The Money: Trump seeks to shift spotlight from impeachment to economy | Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline | New study says tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Trump's defenders are running out of options MORE (R-Wis.) have correctly concluded requires affirmative congressional approval — not Walden's wink-and-nod attempt to surrender the future of the Internet to the likes of China, Russia and North Korea.

"Ceding control to a new international governance structure will undoubtedly have worldwide ramifications," Sensenbrenner and Duffy wrote earlier this year in a letter asking Obama's administration when it planned on asking permission for its proposed giveaway.

Obama hasn't said if he plans on asking for Congress' permission — because he obviously doesn't believe he needs it.

If Republicans wish to enable another arrogant, ill-intentioned administrative power grab, then by all means, they should follow Walden's lead. Conversely, if they wish to take a stand for the future freedom of the Internet — to say nothing of the future relevance of their own branch of government — they should heed Sensenbrenner and Duffy's warnings. Meanwhile, if establishment liberals within the GOP are going to beg for donations on the grounds of standing up for the Constitution, here's a clear cut opportunity for them to make good on their word.

Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.