McConnell: No Political Test for Federal Contracts

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the President’s reported ‘Enemies List’ regulation:

“News outlets reported something today that should worry all of us.

“Apparently, President Obama is again considering imposing his ‘Enemies List’ regulation by executive order — just weeks after Congress voted overwhelmingly to pass, and the President signed into law, legislation prohibiting him from doing that very thing.

“The ‘Enemies List’ regulation would inject partisan politics into the government contracting process by allowing an organization’s political leanings and donations to be considered. Here’s the practical effect: Administrations of either party could draw up friends lists and enemies lists and then award contracts based on whether an organization backed the right horse in the last election.

“That’s the kind of thing you’d expect in some banana republic, not the United States of America.

“So why would the President even attempt to impose such a bad idea?

“Let me remind my colleagues of something the President’s own chief of staff recently said. He implied that the central question President Obama would now ask himself before imposing a policy is Why Not.

“Think about that.

“Not whether it’s good for the country. Not whether it’s constitutional. Just, Why Not.

“If future Republican Presidents lived by this Why Not standard, Democrats would be outraged.

“If future Republican Presidents ignored prohibitions passed by Democrat-controlled Congresses, Democrats would be outraged.

“When the legislature passes a prohibition and the President signs that prohibition into law, it’s the law.

“I hope every one of my colleagues, even those who support the idea of an ‘Enemies List’, will join me in that sentiment at least.

“We’re always mindful that precedents set today could be wielded by very different Presidents tomorrow.

“The intent of the prohibition Congress passed here is clear, regardless of creative legal arguments the Administration might construct to justify skirting the law.

“If President Obama’s standard these days is really Why Not, then here are a few reasons Why Not.

“Here’s the first.

“He can’t.

“That should really be the end of the discussion. For the sake of argument, here’s another reason.

“It’s terrible policy.

“Just listen to what members of the President’s own party have said about it.

“Here’s one of our Democratic colleagues in the Senate:

‘Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the award of contract must be based on the evaluation of quality, price, past performance, compliance with solicitation requirements, technical excellence and other considerations related to the merits of an offer. The requirement that businesses disclose political expenditures as part of the offer process creates the appearance that this type of information could become a factor in the award of federal contracts.’

“‘Requiring businesses to disclose their political activity when making an offer,’ she explained, ‘risks injecting politics into the contracting process.’

“Here’s the second-ranking Democrat in the House:

‘The issue of contracting ought to be on the merits of the contractor's application and bid and capabilities…There are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political contributions in the context of awarding contracts.’

“He said he was ‘not in agreement with the administration’ on this issue.

“So look.

“No one should have to worry about whether supporting a certain party or candidate will determine their ability to get a federal contract or keep a job.

“I hope what we read in the papers isn’t accurate.

“The President’s ‘Enemies List’ proposal fails even the Why Not test, and on multiple levels.

“He can’t.

“It’s bad policy, as Democrats have reminded us.

“And if you need another reason, here’s a third.

“Congress has rejected these types of polices already.

“These are plenty of reasons why the President should not attempt to impose this regulation, and the President should heed them.”

Related Issues: Executive Orders, First Amendment