Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt says the nation's governors are furious that President Clinton quietly signed an executive order to make it easier for the federal government to expand its power over the states.
And he asked the House on Tuesday to pass a resolution calling for Clinton to withdraw it - which the Senate already did last week."Given the secrecy surrounding this order and the complete turnabout of its language and scope, one can only conclude the Clinton administration deliberately set upon a course to expand the role of the federal government.
"Not exactly the end of the era of big government," Leavitt complained to the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs.
Leavitt - representing the National Governors Association - noted that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution says that all powers not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states.
He said executive orders by past presidents recognized that and required the federal government to justify as an enumerated power any action that its bureaucrats wanted to take over states.
But Leavitt complained the new order signed quietly by Clinton on May 14 while he was in England - without consultation with the states - never mentions the 10th Amendment and is so vague that "I'd like someone to show me a scenario where federal action could not be justified under these criteria."
He added that "it envisions a completely different concept of federalism - one of federal supremacy."
He added, "This order authorizes unelected bureaucrats to determine the states' needs and set the federal government on a course of action to meet them. It says the federal government can swoop in with a remedy because some career civil servant somewhere in the maze decides the federal bureaucracy can do it more cheaply. Since when?" Leavitt said.
Leavitt said the order violates states rights under the Constitution, and also usurps legislative powers from Congress.
"Can you, the legislative branch, sit by and license the administration to not just make law, but to remake the Constitution? I cannot fathom Congress allowing usurpation not just of the states, but of the legislative function," he said.
Leavitt said the nation's governors are unswervingly opposed to the new order, and asked the House to pass a resolution demanding that it be withdrawn. He said the White House so far has ignored requests to withdraw the order.