Brief Fact Summary.
Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, Congress contends that the Comptroller General is subservient to Congress and must follow its order.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
While the Constitution does not contemplate an active role for Congress in the supervision of officers charged with the execution of the laws it enacts, it explicitly provides for removal of officers by Congress only upon impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate.
We hold, therefore, that since the powers conferred upon the Comptroller General as part of the automatic deficit reduction process are executive powers, which cannot constitutionally be exercised by an officer removable by Congress, those powers cannot be exercised and therefore the automatic deficit reduction process to which they are central cannot be implemented.View Full Point of Law
Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, the Comptroller General has the ultimate authority to determine the budget cuts to be made. The Comptroller General also commands the President himself to carry out the directive as to budget reductions. Under the Act, the Comptroller General must exercise judgment and interpret the provisions of the Act to determine what budgetary calculations are required. Congress, however, contends that the Comptroller General is subservient to Congress and must follow its order.
Does the assignment by Congress to the Comptroller General of the U.S of certain functions violates the doctrine of separation of powers?
No, because Congress cannot reserve the power of removal of an officer charged with the execution of the laws except by impeachment. Once Congress makes its choice in enacting legislation, its participation ends. Congress can thereafter control the execution of its enactment only indirectly by passing new legislation.
The exercise of authority by an officer removable for cause by a joint resolution of Congress is not same as execution of the law by Congress. The Comptroller is not an appointee of Congress but an officer of the U.S appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Thus, the Comptroller is neither an agent of Congress nor lacks the power to exercise executive authority.
To permit the execution of the laws to be vested in an officer answerable only to Congress would reserve in Congress control over the execution of the laws. However, the Constitution does not permit Congress to execute the laws and Congress cannot grant to an officer under its control what it does not possess.