U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., is highly concerned about the precedent being set by President Barack Obama with a continuing “overreach” of authority that threatens the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution.
“His actions are certainly restricting the economy and our freedoms,” said Walden, who is seeking re-election to his Second Congressional District seat.
He is being challenged by Democrat Jim Crary, an attorney from Ashland.
Walden is hopeful that Republicans emerge from the Nov. 8 General Election with strong majorities in the House and Senate and holding the White House.
If that occurs, he said the balance can be restored between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government.
He said Obama has repeatedly overstepped his role, which is to enact laws passed by the House and Senate. And Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is poised to do the same.
(Contacted Friday by Hood River News, Walden spokesman Andrew Malcolm said the congressmen was referring to Clinton’s stances on health care and immigration, as well as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would allow the EPA to expand its regulation over waters from stock ponds to irrigation ditches. The rule has been repeatedly rejected by the Congress and has been stayed by the courts. Clinton supports the rule.)
“We cannot continue down the path we are on,” said Walden, who resides in Hood River.
Walden said Obama’s record losses in the Supreme Court are a testament to the illegality of his executive orders. Most recently, justices declined to reconsider the president’s directive regarding immigration.
In 2014, Obama made a unilateral decision to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation without conferring with Congress, which Republicans fought as unconstitutional.
Twenty-six states filed the initial lawsuit in a Texas federal court, resulting in an injunction on the administration’s actions. The justices, evenly split between liberals and conservatives, were tied in their June vote so the lower court ruling against Obama’s actions stood. The high court recently declined to take up the issue again.
Walden said other evidence of Obama’s overreach can be found in the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to regulate even water in irrigation ditches to gain a foothold on land use, and much more. “President Obama has repeatedly made an end run around Congress to get his own way but those actions are not in keeping with the underlying law,” said Walden. “I hear almost every day about new rules adversely affecting farmers or some other group.”
He said an equally important decision being made by Americans in November’s election is the makeup of the Supreme Court. He said Clinton, like Obama, favors activist judges who change the law from the bench.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made public his list of potential justices. All of these individuals are experienced and have a strong track record of making sure laws approved by decision-makers are constitutional, said Walden.
With up to four potential court appointments during the next four years, Walden said the next president will affect the direction of America for decades to come.
“We are at a critical juncture in this country — whether we go left or right,” he said. “Mr. Trump may do some things that rile people up but, in this case, he is very solid.”
Even though he believes a Clinton presidency that follows Obama’s lead spells trouble for the economy, Walden has been sharply critical of Trump’s behavior.
He released this statement Monday about the Republican candidate’s remarks about groping a woman in a 2005 recorded conversation that recently aired:
“Of course, I condemn Mr. Trump’s comments on women. They were disrespectful and disgusting and not representative of the Republican Party I grew up in and have worked hard to support and grow. While some aren’t surprised by his behavior, it’s clear he and he alone is responsible for his actions and statements. My focus continues to be on serving the people of southern, central and eastern Oregon, and maintaining a Republican majority in the House so we can get the country on a better path.”
Walden said he wished Trump was a more disciplined candidate and did not say things that were offensive to so many people.
“I do think he has given voice to a lot of Americans who feel they have been ignored,” he said.
Walden said Trump with his faults is still a better choice than Clinton, who has clearly shown that she cannot be trusted to safeguard national security, or put American interests before her own.
“She mishandled classified data and she got away with it —so what will she get away with as president?” he asked.
He said the media has been reluctant to fully explore the issues related to money pouring into the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments during her tenure as secretary of state. However, he said journalists appear to be relentlessly focused on airing negative stories on Trump.
“I think the American people see through the media bias,” he said. “I think the media underestimates the intelligence of the voter and that diminishes the profession of a journalist.”
Because the media is the foundation of democracy, Walden said it is imperative that reporters not abandon their watchdog role for activism.
Walden’s district encompasses 20 counties and stretches across nearly 70,000 square miles and two time zones. It is one of the largest districts in the country, so he puts in plenty of “windshield time” to meet with constituents.
Toward that end, he has held more than 53 town halls since the start of 2015, in addition to attending meetings and participating in activities.
Seven of Walden’s proposals to help constituents have made it through the House this term, most with unanimous support, including a way to fund new bridges in the Columbia River Gorge.
The key to getting more bills through the House than 94 percent of his peers is being able to work in a bipartisan manner, said Walden.
Making sure veterans get access to the care and benefits they’ve earned tops his priority list. Americans are rightfully outraged by the scandals and lack of accountability at the Veterans Administration, he said.
“I’ve assisted more than 5,000 veterans,” he said, “including legislation to hold senior managers at the VA accountable and boost funding and accessibility to housing and mental health care.”
For four years, Walden said the House has passed bipartisan legislation to fix “broken” federal forest policy to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, put people back to work in the woods and improve forest health.
He said these bills have not moved forward in the Senate, so he is hopeful of increasing the Republican majority so new policies can be approved. He said better management of national forests will reduce the huge costs of firefighting activities and provide revenue for schools and essential services.
Walden is also focused on delivering better care to the mentally ill, boosting medical research to help find cures for deadly diseases, and improving the safety of railroads, highways and bridges.
He invites people to check out “A Better Way,” the Republican vision for America in addressing foreign and domestic issues at better.gop.
“I take my job very seriously and look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the Second District,” Walden said.