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Lee, Love Want To Empower Congress

Judy Fahys/KUER
Rep. Mia Love and Sen. Mike Lee, both Utah Republicans, talked about their initiative to rein in the power of the executive branch, called the "Article 1 Project."

Two Utahns in Congress stopped at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics Thursday to talk about their new initiative to “empower” Congress.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee said Congress has handed over many of its duties to unelected bureaucrats.

“So, it’s no wonder that Congress’ approval levels are at an all-time historic low,” he said Thursday. “In many ways, we’re not even doing our job as an institution.”

The Republican senator and GOP Congresswoman Mia Love said they want to take back power that Congress has gradually handed over to federal agencies. They say that’s a way to restore public confidence and make elected leaders more accountable.

Love told the political scientists and their students that the current Congress has passed 100 bills, while federal agencies have enacted over 3,378 regulations. Love said voters should have the power hold their representatives in Congress accountable for laws they don’t like.

“Instead of someone in Washington making all the decisions for us,” she said, “we’re actually putting the American people back into the process again so that they have input with what’s going on legislatively.”

The two fielded a question about why the Senate’s not considering President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.

“This is up to the Senate to decide how, when, whether and under what procedures anyone will receive a vote and be confirmed or not,” said Lee, adding that the Constitution doesn’t require action.

Love, meanwhile, described the current situation as an example of the advise-and-consent process at work.

“Again, I’m always supportive of the American people having some sort of say in what happens,” she said.

Love and Lee said elements of their “Article One Project” are embodied in legislation before Congress. 

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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