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Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:02 PM

An Unconstitutional Twofer

This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives did something that you wouldn’t think is even possible: they introduced (and then the House passed) a five-page bill that, despite its brevity, may violate two separate provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

The bill increases the debt limit by some unspecified amount, but only for those expenditures “necessary to fund a commitment by the Federal Government that required payment before May 19, 2013.” What does “necessary” mean here? I don’t know, and the bill doesn’t say. What about “commitment” and “required” – what do they mean? Don’t know; doesn’t say. Given sovereign immunity, I’m not sure that any payments by the federal government are ever “required” per se. What if the Government said, “are you going to make me?”

Up until now, the federal debt limit has been a number. Now it’s a concept, and an undefined one at that. I find it hard to square that vagueness with Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that: “The validity of the public debt . . . shall not be questioned.”

Not content with establishing that constitutional dilemma alone, the Republican leadership then made Congressional pay dependent on passing a budget. The bill says that if the Senate doesn’t pass a budget, then Senate pay (which is monthly) is postponed to the first week of 2015. Specifically, it changes pay from $14,500 a month to zero per month, and then something like a $300,000 lump sum on Jan. 2, 2015.

I imagine that the polling on that looks good, but what about the 27th Amendment? The 27th Amendment provides: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” The Republican leadership bill “varies” Senate compensation by postponing it for two years. (It also sticks a finger in the eye of the Senate, but what else is new?)

If you follow Tea Party yammerings, as I do, then you recognize that this “no budget, no pay” idea had been floating around in the Tea Party porcelain bowl for several years now. Right after it was introduced, the Republican Chairman of the Government Operations Committee (who presumably knows a thing or two about government operations) pointed out that this postponement would violate the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. (As Texas Gov. Rick Perry would say, “Oops.”) Then he said he was mistaken. But maybe when he said that he was mistaken, that’s when he was mistaken.

For goodness sake, we Members of Congress all swore to uphold the Constitution just two weeks earlier. The leader of the House Republican Caucus actually administered that oath to us. Couldn’t they at least have waited a little longer?

To make things even worse, just a few days before this bill came up, the House Republicans arranged to have Members of the House read the Constitution out loud on the Floor of the House. Were they all wearing earplugs?

And yet these right-wingers keep telling us that they are “constitutional conservatives.”

Fakers.

Anyway, I voted “no.” Because there is no way to vote “this is absurd.”

Tea Party Republicans, please don’t propose any bills that directly contravene the plain wording of the Constitution. If you were capable of embarrassment, you would be embarrassing yourselves.

Courage,

Congressman Alan Grayson

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply An Unconstitutional Twofer (Original post)
Alan Grayson Jan 2013 OP
hedda_foil Jan 2013 #1
Wounded Bear Jan 2013 #2
safeinOhio Jan 2013 #3
meow2u3 Jan 2013 #4
bigbrother05 Jan 2013 #12
2naSalit Jan 2013 #21
LiberalFighter Jan 2013 #5
msanthrope Jan 2013 #6
tonybgood Jan 2013 #22
rhett o rick Jan 2013 #7
msu2ba Jan 2013 #8
JusticeForAll Jan 2013 #15
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2013 #9
loudsue Jan 2013 #10
WillyT Jan 2013 #11
BumRushDaShow Jan 2013 #13
Riftaxe Jan 2013 #14
libodem Jan 2013 #16
Heathen57 Jan 2013 #17
stupidicus Jan 2013 #18
ShadowLiberal Jan 2013 #19
mountain grammy Jan 2013 #20
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #23

Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:42 PM

1. Thanks for updating us, Congressman.

It's great to see you, both back in the House and here at DU.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:48 PM

2. "Capable of embarrassment."

Therein lies the rub. They know no shame.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:52 PM

3. I think they were all

home schooled.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:07 PM

4. Congressman Grayson, Republicans couldn't care less about the Constitution

unless it works in their favor. They think they can keep the Constitutional provisions they like and discard those that work against them.

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Response to meow2u3 (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:26 PM

12. Pretty much describes their use of the Bible as well.

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Response to bigbrother05 (Reply #12)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 01:51 PM

21. That's exactly what popped into my mind when reading that comment!! (nt)

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:17 PM

5. How many teabaggers really know what is in the Constitution?

How many teabaggers care what is in the Constitution?

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:35 PM

6. On the Congressional pay issue--note that they still get paid, but the lump sum

in 2015 would give them more than if there was a SS cap.

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Response to msanthrope (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 01:59 PM

22. Wouldn't this bill have to be approved by the Senate and House and signed by the president before it

Once again, the GOP members of the House think that they can pass laws without votes by the Senate and signature of the president. This bill is DOA in the Senate so I wouldn't even worry about it's constitutionality.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:43 PM

7. It doesnt "violate" the Constitution until it is challenged and the court agrees that it

does.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:47 PM

8. Welcome Back,

Former and Present Congressman. You were missed.

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Response to msu2ba (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:34 PM

15. Ditto!!



So glad and excited!

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:51 PM

9. thanks for posting. K&R

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:05 PM

10. This is what happens when you elect STUPID people to government.

They have no friggin clue what they're doing, and THAT my friends can ruin our country.

These people are dangerous.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:25 PM

11. Thank You For That !!!



& Rec !!!

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:29 PM

13. K&R

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:33 PM

14. Nonsense like this would be irrelevant if we had a budget

but then again, we could not manage one in 2009 when we had, the house, senate and white house.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:40 PM

16. Not to be mushy

But I have the ultimate respect, for Alan.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:55 PM

17. Thank you for the thread Congressman

It is nice to have someone "on the inside" as it were.

It is so frustrating when those of us who are not Constitutional Scholars seem to understand the rules and principals of our founding documents better than those who are elected and are paid to do the job of governing.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 07:00 PM

18. what happened to this?

We salute Republican Members of the House of Representatives for enshrining in the Rules of the House the requirement that every bill must cite the provision of the Constitution which permits its introduction. http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_we/

Or was their merely a misinterpretation akin to those they make with all other realities?

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:33 PM

19. The debt ceiling is unconstitutional either way, it's just a law, like spending bills passed

The debt ceiling isn't in the constitution, it's just a law passed by congress, just like every other spending bill.

If two laws conflict then courts have to decide which is valid. Courts would much rather have a simple solution, which is strike down the debt limit.

To strike down spending bills for violating the debt would be too complicated for multiple reasons.

1) It would require the court to go through the budgets congress passes and arbitrarily cut spending to get us below the debt limit. The federal budget is so gigantic that that would be a huge undertaking.

2) Congress would almost certainly reinstate almost any spending the courts would cut. Cut the military spending and defense hawks will scream our security is in danger. Cut law enforcement (like the FBI) or court spending and people will scream that criminals won't be getting arrested and thrown in jail like they should. Cut social security and medicare and people will scream that grandma is going to go bankrupt and die without that money that she depends on to survive. It goes on and on.

3) The time it would take the court to rule on the debt limit would allow us to add even more debt in violation of the debt limit. Which would require even more cuts to spending. The courts can't just create new taxes. If the courts take too long to rule on the debt ceiling (as in over a year as the case moves from court to court, up to the supreme court) then we could have more 'illegal' debt over the debt limit then the entire annual budget, or the entire annual tax revenue.


Also, glad that you're back in congress Alan Grayson.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:55 PM

20. Thank you Congressman.

and they don't need earplugs, they are deaf.

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Response to Alan Grayson (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 02:29 PM

23. Thanks, Representative Grayson.

Republicans like to draw an analogy between family budgets and the government's budget.

Never mind that you can't do that, that they aren't comparable.

It's as if a family spent a lot of money, ran up a credit card and then just refused to pay their credit card company. That wouldn't work.

Or, maybe it does work.

We had eight years of a Republican president, several years of a Republican-dominated House and then a deadlocked, filibustered Senate. The Republicans ran up our debts and now they refuse to pay them. If that's how "makers" run their businesses. No wonder our economy is in trouble.

Most of this debt was run up during Republican administrations. And now Republicans want to default when a Democrats is in the White House. Typical.

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