How many divisions does Congress have?
This paraphrase of Joseph Stalin’s dismissive comment about the Pope’s power and authority strikes me as a relevant question today, when Congressional hearings are beginning to lift a corner of the veil of secrecy that conceals the disaster in Benghazi. The question will remain relevant tomorrow as, hopefully, Congress again begins to act as a co-equal branch of government and will launch hearings to uncover the facts behind Fast & Furious and other acts of governmental malpractice committed by the Obama administration.
What worries me is that the Obama administration has not “played well” with Congress. If Congressional decisions thwart Obama, they are scorned or bypassed, to the maximum extent possible. Typically, when Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for withholding information about Fast & Furious, he simply shrugged it off. No remorse at all.
And so I wonder…
The Executive has lots of raw power available to it to compel obedience: the military, the various law enforcement organs, etc. etc. Lots of divisions, in other words.
But, figuratively speaking, how many divisions does Congress have? What if a Congressional committee summons a high-ranking member of the Executive Branch and/or that member’s documents, and that individual simply blows them off? What if Congress votes to censure or impeach someone in the Executive, and that someone fails to take them seriously? In other words, what if members of the Executive Branch decide that the rule of law no longer applies to them or theirs? And what if the Executive Branch decides it is time for a quiet putsch?
What does Congress do then? Send a posse of Congressional pages to arrest the malfeasants?
And so I ask again: how many divisions does Congress have?