House Republicans Place Renewed Focus on the Constitution

The United States Constitution was signed at the Constitional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 224 years ago tomorrow on September 17, 1787.  Christian Coalition of America has, during the month of September, been urging Americans to celebrate Constitution Day in homes and other locations all across America tomorrow.

In honor of Constitution Day being celebrated all over America tomorrow, the nearly 180-member Republican Study Committee (RSC) in the United States House of Representatives looked back at how House Republicans have placed a renewed focus on the United States Constitution this year.

For example, at the beginning of the 112th Congress  --  controlled by the Republican Party after the huge Tea Party victory in last November's elections  --  the Constitution was read aloud on the House floor for the first time in history.

Note the rest of RSC Chairman Jim Jordan's (R-OH) press release directly below:

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House Republicans Place Renewed Focus on the Constitution

Washington, DC – September 17, 2011, marks 224 years since the signing of the U.S. Constitution. In honor of Constitution Day, the Republican Study Committee looked back at how House Republicans have placed a renewed focus on the Constitution this year.

  • At the start of the 112th Congress, the Constitution was read aloud on the House floor for the first time in history.
  • All legislation introduced in the House must now be accompanied by a statement citing Congress’ constitutional authority for taking such action.
  • Many Americans believe that only a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution can truly solve our debt problems by forcing Washington to live within its means. As part of the Budget Control Act, the House and Senate will both be required to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment between October 1 and the end of the year.
  • For the first time in recent memory, the House specifically set aside a block of time during debate on patent reform legislation to focus exclusively on the question of the measure’s constitutionality.
  • To prevent recess appointments and protect the Senate’s authority under Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution to provide “Advice and Consent” on presidential appointments, members of the RSC have used their power under Article 1, Section 5 to prevent Congress from adjourning for more than 3 days.

Of course, more work remains to be done. Constitution Caucus Chairman Rep. Scott Garrett writes in today’s Washington Times about strengthening the requirement that bill sponsors provide a constitutional justification for their legislation.

“As I have maintained from the beginning, for the constitutional justification rule to be effective, it must have teeth, a mechanism to hold House members accountable to the constitutional justification they provide for their proposed legislation. To that end, I have advocated to take the rule a step further, proposing that House members be allowed to raise a point of order and vote to reject a bill of dubious constitutionality.”

In addition to these actions, members of the 10th Amendment Task Force (a project of the RSC led by Rep. Rob Bishop) yesterday highlighted a slate of 10 bills aimed at reinvigorating the fundamental constitutional principle of federalism and helping to restore the intended balance of power between the states and the federal government.

  1. H.J.Res.62: The Repeal Amendment - Brief Description: Constitutional amendment that authorizes the repeal of any federal law or regulation when the legislatures of two-thirds of the States approve resolutions that describe the federal provision to be repealed.  Sponsor: Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01)
  2. H.R.1683: State Flexibility Act - Brief Description:  The bill would repeal federal Maintenance of Effort (MOE) laws – first established in the Stimulus law of 2009 – that prevent states from making changes to their Medicaid programs, effectively tying the hands of Governors during tough economic times.  Sponsor:  Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11)
  3. H.R. 2917: Restoration of State Sovereignty Act of 2011 - Brief Description:  Empowers States by giving them the opportunity to accept or reject federal grant money. Grant money rejected by State legislatures would be dedicated to paying off our outstanding national debt and deficit.  Sponsor:  Rep. John A. Culberson (TX-07)
  4. H.R. 2916: Tenth Amendment Enforcement Act - Brief Description:  Reaffirms each State’s autonomous sovereign police powers under the Tenth Amendment to preserve and protect the safety, security, and property of its citizens without interference from Federal authorities. Sponsor:  Rep. John A. Culberson (TX-07)
  5. H.R.1737:  The Surface Transportation and Taxation Equity Act or State Act - Brief Description:  The STATE Act returns primary responsibility for transportation and infrastructure projects back to the states without any additional cost to the taxpayer. This legislation would increase the revenue available to States while enabling them to prioritize projects based on safety, traffic needs, and improved commerce without being subject to federal mandates. The STATE Act accomplishes this by granting states the ability to opt out of the federal transportation program through increasing their gas taxes while simultaneously reducing the federal gas tax by the same amount.  Sponsor:  Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
  6. H.R. 1585: The State Transportation Flexibility Act - Brief Description:  This bill would give states the option to keep the funds they would otherwise be forced to contribute to the Federal-aid Highway Program and the Mass Transit Account (MTA).  If a state chooses to opt-out of these programs, they would be able to collect, remit and manage their own gas tax dollars. Sponsor: Rep. James Lankford (OK-05)
  7. H.R. 2514: The Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act or A-PLUS Act - Brief Description:  This legislation would allow states to enter into a five-year performance agreement with the U.S. Secretary of Education, allowing states complete autonomy to improve and enhance their education system without federal interference.  Sponsor:  Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01)
  8. H.R.___:  Local Education Authority Returns Now Act (not yet introduced) - Brief Description:  Requires the Secretary of Education to determine credits due to states as opt-out state education amounts.  Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow individual taxpayers in states that opt-out a refundable tax credit for a share of the opt-out amount creditable to such states.  Sponsor:  Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
  9. H.R.455:  10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act - Brief Description:  Provides State officials with special standing to challenge proposed federal agency rules and regulations, and for other purposes. Further, the legislation calls for expedited review of district court rulings in the US Court of Appeals. Sponsor:  Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04)
  10. H.R.1047:  The State Right to Vote Act - Brief Description:  Amends the National Labor Relations Act to clarify that State-approved legislation or Constitutional amendments insuring secret union ballots are appropriate exercises of State’s congressionally approved authority. The legislation also prohibits federal agencies from bringing a challenge against a State statute or constitutional provision which protects the right of employees to choose labor organization representatives through secret ballot elections.  Sponsor:  Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03)
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