The third time will apparently be the charm for the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” regulations. Having been shot down twice by the courts in earlier attempts to regulate broadband, members of the commission—enterprising bureaucrats that they are—found new legal authority for their power grab.

However one feels about the new rules, it is inarguable that this is not how the founding fathers designed our government to operate. “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” reads Article I of the Constitution. To prevent its misuse, the awesome power to make laws was split between two chambers. By design, governance requires the diverse representatives of the governed to find consensus.

The first Congress had more than 90 voting members; the current one has 535. The FCC, by contrast, has 5 members, only 3 of whom agreed on the net neutrality rules. That was enough to promulgate 300 pages of regulations that have the effect of law.

The FCC’s action is all the more galling because Congress has been actively debating broadband legislation. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., circulated a draft bill in January.

Of course, the FCC’s action was not a rare instance of unaccountable government. Today’s executive agencies make law as a matter of course, and generate a ton of it. At agencies’ current pace of about 4,000 regulations issued annually, a new federal rule is created roughly every two hours. Lay the 170,000 pages of the Code of Federal Regulations end to end and it would leave a trail of impenetrable text 29.5 miles long.

When one considers Congress enacts perhaps 50 meaningful statutes per year, it becomes plain that the first branch no longer is our nation’s primary lawmaking body. America has morphed into the expert-led state imagined by John Stuart Mill in his 1861 treatise Considerations on Representative Government. Civil servants devise policy and the legislature serves mostly as a pressure valve for the vox populi.

Instead of the function of governing, for which it is radically unfit, the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable; to [censure] them if found condemnable, and, if the men who compose the government abuse their trust, or fulfill it in a manner which conflicts with the deliberate sense of the nation, to expel them from office, and either expressly or virtually appoint their successors. This is surely ample power, and security enough for the liberty of the nation.

Mill’s conception is eerily prescient, but rather different from the government the American framers intended. In our constitutional system, agencies are created to execute the laws made by Congress. Toward this end, they are obliged to issue rules clarifying how a law should operate in practice. These rules should not expand the scope of the law as written or establish new powers beyond those explicated in the statute.

Emblematic of the modern administrative state was the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tailoring rule,” which targeted greenhouse gas emissions before it was struck down a year ago by the U.S. Supreme Court for attempting to “bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” Alas, that case was far from an anomaly. According to Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum, courts have invalidated more than a dozen regulations in recent years, issued by agencies ranging from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Undoubtedly, the FCC’s net neutrality rules likewise will be challenged in court, contributing to significant economic uncertainty for the broadband industry, major content providers and the peerage market that connects the two.

Congress at long last may be wearying of regulatory overreach. A spate of regulatory reform bills has been introduced recently.

Getting the president to sign regulatory reform legislation is a long shot, but Congress is not helpless. The Congressional Review Act empowers Congress to stop a regulation before it takes effect. Any legislator may introduce a short CRA disapproval resolution to kickstart a process that grants Congress 60 days to approve the resolution and send it to the president. If the White House signs the resolution, the rule never takes effect.

The CRA was passed 19 years ago with bipartisan approval, spearheaded by Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and signed by President Bill Clinton. Harry Reid, D-Nev., supported it, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., a longtime CRA advocate, cheered its enactment: “Now we are in a position to do something ourselves. If a rule goes too far afield from the intent of Congress .  .  . we can stop it. That’s a new day, and one a long time coming.” Unlike the REINS Act, the CRA is standing law and raises no separation of powers anxieties. Justice Stephen Breyer, by the way, gave congressional review a thumbs-up in a 1984 lecture.

A standard complaint about the CRA is that it will never work. A president will always veto bills that kill regulations written by his agencies. That may be true, but there is only one way to find out. Last week, Congress used the CRA against new pro-union regulations issued by the National Labor Relations Board. Presumably Obama will veto the resolution, but no matter. The next two years ought to be a particularly appealing time for Republicans to use the CRA. Any new regulations almost assuredly are the product of the Obama administration. At minimum, using the CRA to protest unwise proposed rules signals to constituents that a legislator is standing up for them, and against a not-very-popular president.

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