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Congressional Record [.PDF]
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
2003 Ron Paul 107:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, no one questions the need for the Federal Government to obtain the necessary resources to fill its constitutional role of providing for the common defense. However, the federal government must fulfill this duty in a manner that does not conflict in any way with the Constitution or endanger republican government. The Defense Production Reauthorization Act (DPA), which gives almost unchecked power to the executive to interfere in the economy in the name of national security, fails both of these standards. In fact, when I inquired at the sole hearing the House Financial Services Committee held on this issue as to which section of the Constitution authorized such sweeping grants of power to the Executive, I was greeted by silence from the expert witnesses!
2003 Ron Paul 107:2
Under this bill, the President is given authority to void private contracts in order to ensure that federal defense priorities, as determined by the executive, are met. The only limitation on the Presidents judgment is a requirement that he submits a series of findings to Congress. The Executive also has what appears to be unchecked authority to use financial incentives such as loan guarantees, direct loans, and purchase guarantees to ensure production of items he determines are in the national interest.
2003 Ron Paul 107:3
Congress appears to have no ability to perform any real oversight of a Presidential action under the DPA. In fact, my office has been informed by the Congressional Research Service that past Presidents may have invoked the DPA without even submitting the required findings to Congress!
2003 Ron Paul 107:4
The wide grant of unchecked power to the Executive runs counter to the intent of the drafters of the Constitution. The Founders carefully limited the executive power because they recognized that an executive with unfettered power was a threat to liberty. In recent years we have seen administrations of both parties undermine the Constitutional separation of powers via enhanced reliance on executive orders and unilateral decision-making. The Defense Production Reauthorization Act provides Constitutional blessing to this usurpation of power, and not just in areas clearly related to national defense. For example, the DPA has been used to justify federal interference in the energy market. It is an open question what other exercise of federal power could be justified as related to defense. For example, federal education programs has been justified on the grounds that an educated population is vital to national defense, so perhaps a future president will use DPA to impose a national curriculum!
2003 Ron Paul 107:5
I am also concerned that this bill violates the Fifth Amendments takings clause. In particular, DPA allows the government to seize private property by interfering with the performance of private contracts in order to give priority to military production. This action reduces the value of the affected parties proprietary interests, and thus is a taking, requiring the government to provide just compensation to the affected party. The Fifth Amendment intends to assure that the government does not unfairly burden one group of citizens in carrying out its constitutional functions. By not providing for just compensation, DPA allows the executive to unfairly burden one group of citizens for costs that the Constitution requires be shared among the entire population.
2003 Ron Paul 107:6
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the Defense Production Act gives the executives unchecked power to meddle in the economy, flying in the face of the original constitutional structure and endangering the very liberty it claims to protect. Therefore, I must oppose this bill.