Congress abdicates responsibility

News editor

Whether trying to stop wasteful spending or getting to the bottom of a scandal or controversy, Congress has the ability to check presidential power if it puts its foot down. But lately, Congress has been too reluctant to force the issues. That was part of the message Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) gave at a town hall meeting Jan. 9 in Hillsboro.

He said that for most of the past century, presidents have issued executive orders in conflict with existing laws. It takes Congress challenging those unilateral decisions to rescind them, he said.

Congress’ biggest check on presidential power is its budget authority, Huelskamp said — the president cannot enforce executive orders without the money to do so. But it takes a majority of Congress to make that happen.

A member of the audience asked Huelskamp about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s knowledge of it.

“We don’t know, they won’t tell us,” Huelskamp said. “What bothers me is I don’t think Congress cares to know.”

Health care

Earlier in the day, Huelskamp met with the St. Luke Hospital board in Marion to hear concerns about the federal health care policy.

More than half — 54 percent — of the hospital’s revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid services, CEO Jeremy Amstrong said. If the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is fully implemented, the hospital projects will lose $1 million of Medicare payments over the next 10 years.

Home health care is projected to take the bulk of the cuts, despite the fact that home care is much cheaper than hospitalization.

Armstrong wonders whether cuts to home care will result in more people being hospitalized.

“Washington has a belief that they know more about St. Luke than you would ever know,” Huelskamp said.

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