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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee pictures a world where Sen. Kamala Harris is president and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaker of the House, and in his eyes it isn't pretty.
In a piece for the National Review posted online Monday, the Utah Republican fast-forwards to March 2022. His made-up narrative has the Republican-controlled Senate rejecting Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, ending any chance of getting a bill passed on climate change before the midterm elections.
Heavy rains have caused flooding along the Ohio and Wabash Rivers in Indiana, prompting the governor to call a state of emergency.
And with her legislative agenda in "tatters and the economy flat," Lee sees "President Harris" declaring a national emergency over climate change under the National Emergencies Act.
In his story, she ends all oil, natural gas and coal leases on federal lands. She redirects billions of dollars in military spending to build a national high-speed rail network and extends hundreds of billions in loan guarantees to wind and solar projects. She freezes the finances of all oil and gas corporations and their officers, explaining these “threats to the climate safety of our nation” must be held accountable for all the damage caused to the environment.
"Seem far-fetched?" Lee writes. "Maybe."
Lee continues to bang the drum against what he sees as Congress ceding its power to the executive branch and the shredding of the Constitution, this time with what would be a nightmare scenario for Republicans.
What the nation lets the executive branch get away with is rapidly expanding, "and we need to take some real steps to reverse course now," he said.
"If we don’t want our president acting like a king we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so," he tweeted in March as he filed a bill to curb a president’s power to declare a national emergency.
Also in March, Lee voted to block President Donald Trump's using the National Emergencies Act to redirect military construction funds away from congressionally approved projects and toward "congressionally unapproved" sections of the southern border wall.
And Monday, he introduced a bill designed to ensure that presidents cannot use humanitarian crises as a "loophole" around the War Powers Act.
"Political elites feed us a faux-sophisticated analysis that the 'Schoolhouse Rock' version of how a bill becomes a law is a nice theory but is now naïve and passé in our vast, diverse continental nation of nearly 330 million people," he wrote.
"They claim that, given the responsibilities of the United States as a global economic and military power, and Congress’s inability to get things done, we have no choice but to accept and even encourage an imperial presidency and a judicial super-legislature."
But, he said, that is far from the truth, and goes on to make several suggestions on how Congress can reclaim power.
Monday's essay isn't the first time Lee has gotten creative in order to make a point.
In March, he mocked Ocasio-Cortez's Green New deal in a poorly received speech on the Senate floor featuring images of a machine-gun wielding Ronald Reagan riding a dinosaur and "carbon-neutral" tauntauns from "Star Wars."