House Members Challenge GOP Lawmakers to Vote Against Resolution That Affirms Presidents Don't Have 'Total Authority'

Several lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced legislation Tuesday offering a direct rebuke of President Donald Trump's claim his "authority is total" during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing hours earlier.

New Jersey congressman Tom Malinowski joined Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips and Michigan Independent Justin Amash in filing the House Resolution that affirms the chamber's members are in agreement "the president remains limited by the Constitution and laws of the United States." The House resolution responds to Trump's remarks Monday declaring he has "total" authority over state governors to reopen the economy when he decides to pull back on weeks of federal government social distancing guidelines. The president did not offer any details about how he plans to assert his power given the states' rights restrictions present in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.

And in a challenge to the president's most ardent Republican Party supporters in Congress, the House members on Tuesday introduced a single-sentence resolution reaffirming that Trump, or any future U.S. president, does not have total authority over the states. Malinowski remarked in a tweet: "I'm curious if anyone will object" to a resolution which simply affirms what's written in the Constitution.

"Resolved, That the House of Representatives affirms that when someone is the president of the United States, their authority is not total," reads the single-line House resolution introduced by the three congressmen. The on-the-record vote would force the president's supporters to either agree with Trump's Monday claims or to simply uphold constitutional law.

I introduced this one-sentence House resolution this morning, with @RepDeanPhillips and @justinamash.

We can only pass things with unanimous consent these days, so I'm curious if anyone will object.

— Tom Malinowski (@Malinowski) April 14, 2020

"I introduced this one-sentence House resolution this morning with Rep. Dean Phillips and Justin Amash. We can only pass things with unanimous consent these days, so I'm curious if anyone will object," New Jersey Congressman Malinowski tweeted Tuesday morning, sharing a photo of the resolution that does not yet appear on Congress' official legislative tracker. It is not the first time Malinowski has used the legislative process to take a direct shot at the president's remarks.

Last July, the congressman introduced a House resolution condemning Trump for "racist" tweets directed at four congresswomen of color. Amash left the Republican Party that same month, writing a Washington Post announcement decrying the Trump-led "partisan death spiral" that has taken over Washington politics. On Monday, Amash suggested in a Twitter response to a supporter that he's "looking at" a potential run for president to offer a choice to "Americans who believe in limited government."

Newsweek was unable to reach Malinowski or Amash's offices for comment early Tuesday afternoon.

Trump's Monday remarks followed widespread debate over states rights versus federal government authority. Several governors have said they would refuse any immediate federal orders to "re-open" should the Trump administration decide to do so prior to at least the May 1 social distancing guidelines.

"We don't have a king—we have a president," Cuomo said in an MSNBC interview Monday, prompting Trump to respond on Twitter that Cuomo has been "begging" him in hourly phone calls for help which is "the state's responsibility."

Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline introduced a separate resolution to the House last week that also looks to put a check on the executive branch's authority during the country's next potential health crisis. House Resolution 6480 reads, "To require the President, after the World Health Organization declares a global pandemic, to report to the Congress on the status of Federal planning to respond to the pandemic."

tom malinowski house resolution authority
In a challenge to the president's most ardent supporters in Congress, several House members introduced a single-sentence resolution reaffirming Trump, or any U.S. president, does not have total authority. SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty Images