What if Congress refuses to appropriate money for the surge and the Dear Leader just ignores it?
I realize that this question may sound flip, but given the Bush Administration’s desire for a permanent constitutional crisis, I think that it might be worth wargaming right now. The conversation now in Left Blogistan is whether Congress should refuse to appropriate money. But isn’t this just a paper formality?
Say Congress refuses to appropriate the billions that Bush requests for the war. Then Bush just orders his Treasury Secretary, who reports to him, to cut the check, buy the equipment, pay the suppliers, etc. Quite literally, is there anything that stops this from occurrring as a practical matter?
And does anyone think that an answer such as, “well, that would be illegal and an impeachable offense” has any purchase? The President’s minions will just say that this is inherent in the Commander-in-Chief power; they will note that Article I of the Constitution only says that all legislative power herein granted shall be vested in Congress, implying a legislative power in the Presidency (don’t laugh; I’ve heard this); the press will dutifully say that there is a legal dispute; and that will be the end of that.
We all assume that Congress has the power of the purse, but all these things depend upon some commitment by everyone to observe basic norms of a political culture. But I am not being rhetorical here: is there any practical reason why this scenario would not occur?