A sharp breach of trust between Congress and the Obama administration is being cited as collateral damage from President Obama's controversial executive decision to swap five ranking Taliban members for POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The swap, which was done without the requisite notification to Congress, is the latest example of what critics say is Obama's pattern of circumventing Congress on high profile issues, which many lawmakers believe further diminishes any chances for bipartisan compromise on major legislation, from immigration to the environment.
“If it was an isolated incident, then maybe you could just say, ‘Oh, this was an emergency situation.’ But what you have is a pattern of the administration ignoring the law, whether it’s health care, immigration or now national security,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told ABC News in an interview this week. “And obviously those sorts of patterns undermine our system of government.”
Critics tick off a number of incidents which they believe the Obama administration thumbed its nose at Congress.
Thornberry, who has lined up to take over the gavel when House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon retires at the end of the Congress, isn’t speaking just for Republicans. Democrats, too, have expressed outrage over the president’s apparent violation of law by failing to notify Congress of the impending deal to release five detainees from Guantanamo.
“I strongly believe that we should have been consulted, that the law should have been followed, and I very much regret that that was not the case,” Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters following a classified briefing Tuesday. “It comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law.”
The only member of Congress who apparently knew Obama would execute the Bergdahl deal was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said the White House told him the day before the swap.
For months, Boehner has insisted that House Republicans simply do not trust President Obama to enforce laws passed by Congress, giving the speaker some space to resist efforts to advance immigration reform in the House.