Executive Orders Cant Change Statutory Law

Mar 24, 2010
Frankly Speaking

As they did in the Senate with the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ backroom promises were made to some members in the House of Representatives in exchange for a yes vote on the recently passed health care bill.  One of the most controversial was President Obama’s promise to sign an executive order he claims would reinforce a ban within the bill on the use of federal funds for abortions in a last minute effort to assuage pro-life Democrats to abandon their constituency and their core beliefs. 

Any legal scholar will tell you that an executive order cannot change statutory law, no matter how much the president may want to believe it can.  The only way to truly prevent taxpayer funding for abortions is to enact a law that prevents taxpayer funding of abortions – and this health care legislation does the exact opposite.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Caucus, has stated herself that, ‘an executive order can’t change the law.’  So it appears that Democrats and Republicans alike can agree in a bipartisan fashion that this executive order is simply for show – statutory language is the only thing that can alter existing law.

Today, President Obama will sign his non-binding, ineffective executive order that will do little more than provide political cover for those so-called ‘pro-life’ members who voted in favor of the health care bill.  Well, it might also leave many Americans wondering if – as most Democrats claim – the health care bill doesn’t actually provide federal funding for abortions because of the Hyde Amendment, why this executive order is necessary at all.

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