Protecting and Expanding Federalism

When crafting the Constitution, America’s founding fathers took care to include strong checks and balances that limit the power of the federal government and protect our rights. Essential to this revolutionary system of government was the concept of federalism – vesting the majority of political power to states and local jurisdictions instead of Washington, D.C. In recent years, as the federal government has grown, the power of the people has slowly been eroded.

Our country must return to the ideals of federalism. Returning political power back to the states, cities, and communities gives Americans the greatest autonomy and freedom over their own lives.

When elected President, Mike Pence will be committed to returning the power of governance to the local level, as our founding fathers intended. In an effort to accomplish that goal, he will champion the following policies that will immediately return power to states and the people of this country.

Eliminate the Department of Education and Deliver Educational Funds Directly to States

Control over the education of children should be vested in the hands of parents working at the local level with their community schools. It certainly should not be run by Washington bureaucrats using the power of federal purse strings to use K-12 education as a liberal social experiments. President Pence will work with Congress to eliminate the unnecessary Department of Education and return that funding and decision-making back to parents. The $24 billion currently spent by bureaucrats will be returned to states with the one restriction that states taking federal dollars must grant children the flexibility to use their tax dollars at the school of their choice – public or parochial. We can end federal control, eliminate the Department of Education, and enact universal school choice in one fell swoop.

Provide States with Federal Healthcare Funds and Flexibility

The 2010 federal healthcare law known as the “Affordable Care Act,” or more commonly called Obamacare, created a federally controlled healthcare system that included new mandates and costly requirements for states. Since Obamacare was enacted with its Washington-based control of American healthcare, health insurance premiums have doubled, and the country is now facing a doctor shortage. Our top-down system needs to be reformed. Federal spending on insurance subsidies and low-income healthcare services should be given to the states in the form of flexible block grants. States should have the ability to allocate healthcare dollars toward policies and plans that work best for their populations.

Grant Millions of Acres of Federal Land Back to States

During the 20th century, our government’s policies toward land shifted from the goal of disseminating it to states and individuals to obtaining and retaining land in the hands of Washington. The federal government owns a staggering 28% of all land in the country. That adds up to 640 million acres of land across the country. Property under federal control is not only off limits to private or state development but is increasingly being mismanaged by bureaucrats. The agencies tasked with overseeing federal lands across the country have failed to properly maintain these precious natural resources and federal lands now face a maintenance backlog of over $35 billion. The Pence Administration will begin identifying and selling land back to states and individuals to revert millions of acres from the federal government to better stewardship from states.

Give States the Authority to Administer All Federal Welfare Programs

The federal government oversees a patchwork of overlapping and duplicative welfare programs that have failed to help low-income families achieve the American dream. In total, there are over 80 different federal programs designed to assist Americans living in poverty that cost over $400 billion each year. Our Washington-based welfare system is inefficient, expensive, and confusing for the people who need it the most. Rather than layer these programs across multiple agencies and administer them through an army of bureaucrats, funding to help the needy should be consolidated into simple grants and given to the states. President Pence will work with Congress to turn over these programs and funding to the states where they can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals while helping people achieve success.

Return Control of Highway Trust Fund Spending to States

Federal funding for roads and bridges in America is taken from individuals through gas taxes at the pump, then sent to Washington, then redistributed back to states through a series of complicated formulas. During the process, highway funds are tied to federal restrictions and requirements that drive up the costs of construction. This inefficient process is one of the main reasons that we are facing federal highway funding deficits and a Highway Trust Fund that will soon be insolvent. States should be freed from unnecessary federal requirements so more money can be spent on construction. The next time that highway spending is reauthorized, President Pence will engage with Congress to devolve more non-interstate federal highway dollars directly back to the states to prioritize projects without federal strings attached.

Prohibit Any Regulations that Impose Unfunded Mandates on States

Government regulatory agencies often implement rules that have imposed substantial costs on state and local governments. At the same time, Congress passes scores of laws every year that includes mandates on state governments or preempt state and local law. Unfunded mandates on states and regulatory compliance costs erode the Tenth Amendment and the principle of federalism that this country was founded upon. As President, Pence will enforce a new regulatory standard that will review all new rules for costs and burdens they will impose on states.

Convert All Federal Housing Programs to State Administered Block Grants

Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal government operates over one dozen programs that provides rental and housing assistance to individuals. Like welfare programs, these federally centered housing plans have resulted in a housing policy that keeps people in poverty. Even worse, evidence has shown that HUD policies have, in some cases, encouraged segregation. Rental assistance programs should not be controlled by bureaucrats in Washington. These programs need to be reformed to ensure that states and localities with direct knowledge of their communities are in charge of assistance. President Pence will work to make sure that happens.

Enact Rules and Legislation to Limit the Federal Use of Eminent Domain

The constitutional use of eminent domain by the federal government to take control of state and local lands has been abused by Washington in recent years. President Pence will oppose excessive use of eminent domain and enact legislation to ensure that property owners are compensated when the government deprives them of the use of that property. In order to do so, he will implement a high administrative standard for the federal government to even consider the use of eminent domain. Under the Pence Administration, there will be no place for the use of eminent domain to advance green energy priorities at the expense of private property rights.