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The United States Does Not Negotiate … with Congress

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By Tony Perkins

Family Research Council — Americans have gotten the raw end of a lot of Barack Obama deals — but the Bowe Bergdahl swap could literally be the most explosive yet. With five of the world’s top terrorists on a “work release” program in Qatar, voters see the swap as the ticking time bomb it is. President Obama, who seemed to show some remorse for the “oversight” of breaking the law, has shifted gears, digging in his heels on what’s turned out to be a major black eye on his already bruised foreign policy record.

Only 37% of Americans approve of the trade of the Taliban commanders for a decidedly anti-American deserter. Those numbers continue to tank, especially among military veterans, who recognize the steep price paid for Bergdahl’s search and, later, recovery. By 68-16% vets say the President made the wrong decision. On both sides, there’s also concern about the way he made it. A clear majority (64%) think the White House should have notified Congress, as the law demands. Yet when Pew Research broke down the numbers by ideology, 64% of self-described “liberals” disagreed, saying Obama was right to circumvent lawmakers. Obviously, the President has managed (after plenty of practice) to desensitize most of his base to routine lawlessness. Like him, they seem to embrace tyranny — if it aligns with their agenda.

Yesterday, the administration finally brought the legislative branch up to speed — 11 days too late. If Monday’s classified briefing was supposed to ease tensions, it accomplished anything but. Members were even more furious that the White House kept them in the dark, especially after learning that at least 90 administrative officials knew about the exchange before they did. “If anything, I have more concerns,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “Probably the most distressing thing or the most disturbing thing I heard was at least 80 to 90 people in the administration were aware of this proposed deal, and yet they couldn’t notify anyone in Congress.”

Unelected members of the Obama administration could be trusted with this information, but somehow America’s elected leaders could not? Once again, the President is treating the legislative branch — not as constitutional co-equals, but as an unnecessary nuisance, minor obstacles to be trampled in his political stampede. “This is just another example of an administration that does not seem to understand there is a Constitution,” mused a frustrated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).

Even Democrats, many of whom are just as tired of being circumvented, spoke up about the President’s way of doing business. To Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-Calif.) ridiculous statement that she “wouldn’t tell 435 people a secret either,” Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) disagreed, saying that at least key people should have been in on the plan. “… I think it would have been wiser, far wiser, for the administration to have notified certainly the leadership of Congress… Most of the leaks that have taken place have come from the administration and not from Congress, so they really should have brought at least the leadership within their confidence and I think that was a mistake.”

Tomorrow, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will have a chance to share his side of the story with the House Armed Services Committee in the first high-profile hearing on the Bergdahl fallout. In the meantime, Obama apologists like Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) continues to insist, “We leave no soldier behind.” The reality is, Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit behind. And now, we have a President willing to leave the law behind in order to release terrorists.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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