Kathleen Sebelius and Gina McCarthy have just handed Harry Reid a priceless opportunity to prove his many avowals of being willing to put partisanship aside for the good of the country.
Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services and McCarthy at the Environmental Protection Agency are the latest illustrations of President Obama's strategy of flipping the political bird at Congress whenever it gets in the way of moving the chief executive's left-wing ideological agenda forward.
Just a few questions
Sebelius was invited by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to appear Oct. 24 to answer questions about the horrendous failure of Healthcare.gov, the main Internet portal for Obamacare.
Over and over again in the months leading up to the Oct. 1 launch of Healthcare.gov, Sebelius assured everybody that the website would be ready to go.
Now she refuses to answer the entirely justified questions about why she was either mistaken in thinking Healthcare.gov would be ready or why she misrepresented the truth to Congress and the American people.
Sebelius can run but she can't hide from the committee because, as the first branch of government, Congress has an inherent right of oversight that presidents and their appointees have respected (though often only out of constitutional necessity) for more than 200 years.
EPA's regulatory imperialism
For her part, McCarthy is using regulatory imperialism in her approach to dissing Congress. She wants EPA to appropriate to itself authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate virtually every body of water — including puddles, gullywashes and other temporary accumulations of moisture.
To that end, McCarthy is ignoring the law that requires an EPA Science Advisory Board to assess the scientific and technical case for any regulatory action by the agency before it is proposed as a draft rule.
If McCarthy succeeds, EPA will become the most powerful regulatory body in the federal government and the Administrative Procedures Act, which ensures an open, accountable and orderly process for developing, evaluating and implementing federal rule-making, will be gutted.
Can Congress act?
Congress cannot allow Sebelius and McCarthy to succeed in their violations of constitutional order. But Congress is divided along partisan lines, with Democrats under Reid in control of the Senate rarely cooperating with Republicans under House Speaker John Boehner.
House Republicans view the Sebelius and McCarthy actions as useful illustrations of why the Founders gave Congress oversight authority over the executive branch.
So the question is this: Will Reid be the narrow-minded partisan by taking the side of Sebelius and McCarthy, or will he put partisanship aside and act in concert with Boehner and the House to uphold congressional authority and the integrity of the Constitution?
In today's Washington Examiner
Monday's Editorial: Kathleen Sebelius mocks Congress by snubbing Obamacare testimony summons.
Sunday's Editorial: Gina McCarthy wants to be the potentate of private property in America.
Joseph Lawler: Israel's Netanyahu says 'no half-measures' on Iran sanctions.
Michael Barone: A software installer's view on the Obamacare IT mess.
Richard Weekly: Texas shows tort reform helps everybody, except greedy trial lawyers.
In other news
The New York Times: U.S. deal with JPMorgan followed a crucial call.
The New York Times: Experts see weeks of work to fix Healthcare.gov.
The Washington Post: Experts enlisted to fix Healthcare.gov.
The Wall Street Journal: Budget discord simmers among Democrats.
American Thinker: Blame the Tea Party? Use your memory.
National Review Online: What's this, Tea Partiers know more about science?
American Spectator: Ross Kaminsky on Obama and singularities.
Talking Points Memo: GOP likely to reject Obama's big three items on his 2013 agenda.
Brad DeLong: Regulating international labor migration.
The Progressive: Donnie Trump U is a cardboard university.