John Boehner: Lawmakers Sign Off on Constitutional Authority in Bills

Speaker of the House-elect John Boehner has announced strict new rules for the 112th Congress. Most important among them is adhering to the U.S. Constitution when writing legislation, and proving it by citing constitutional authority when bills are submitted and signing-off on it with their signature.

John Boehner

From Politico:

…the rules changes appear aimed at addressing complaints that the legislative process isn’t transparent enough, that Congress is rigged to overspend and that lawmakers ignore the Constitution when formulating policy.

“These reforms represent Republicans’ first step in keeping the promises we outlined in the Pledge to America to change the way Washington works and address the people’s priorities: creating jobs and cutting spending,” Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement issued with the summary.

The GOP is insisting all legislation be published online for the public, and promises to let us know when committee members skip important meetings. The Politico article assumes last-minute changes to legislation will not be published online due to time constraints.

From The Washington Post:

They will read the Constitution aloud.

And then they will require that every new bill contain a statement by the lawmaker who wrote it citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed legislation.

In the Washington Post article, Professor Kevin Gutzman, a history prof at Western Connecticut State University says “the establishment” is “humoring” the people “who are not expert or not fully cognizant:”

And then once they’ve humored them and those people go away, it’s right back to business as usual. It looks like this will be business as usual – except for the half-hour or however long it takes to read the Constitution out loud.”

Gutzman says he is a “conservative libertarian” and sympathizes with the tea party. If that’s true, this is his opportunity to help us hold congressional feet to the blaze of smaller government. We must prevail. We must prevail.

Democrats had their PAY/GO program, which they robustly ignore. PAY/GO stipulated that spending be paid for by cuts elsewhere. Republicans will have CUT/GO:

…increases in mandatory spending would have to be offset by spending cuts in other programs. Mandatory spending refers to the autopilot portion of the budget covering Social Security, Medicare and other programs designed to make payouts based on eligibility criteria rather than a set dollar figure each year.

Under CUT/GO, offsets could not be achieved by raising taxes, according to the summary.

The Gephardt Rule will be eliminated (named after former congressman Dick Gephardt D-MO, House Majority Leader1989-1995, and minority leader 1995-2003):

Gephardt Rule, which has long allowed House members to avoid a direct vote on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The rule provided that a bill increasing the debt limit was automatically generated when the House adopted a conference report on the annual budget resolution.

Were you aware that former Congressmen/women have access to the House gym after they leave office? No doubt at taxpayer expense. Republicans will continue a policy to block access of former lawmakers who register as lobbyists.

Some Committee names are changing:

…restoring the Education and Labor Committee to the Education and Workforce Committee, renaming the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct the Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Science and Technology will now be called the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Transparency will be a huge issue. Expect Democrats to yell “where’s the transparency” on cue. Expect “where’s the transparency” to be a talking point on the evening news. I expect complete transparency out of the 112th. No exceptions. They are governing from The People’s House by authority given to them from The People. Give us transparency or suffer the consequences.

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  • They need to carry this one step further. Each bill must STAND ALONE, no attaching BS to bills in hopes of hiding it and getting it passed. that has been one of the biggest boondoggles for overspending.

  • ticker, I think that’s in the works. If it isn’t they will get a huge backlash. Boehner has spoken numerous times about bills with few pages, maybe even one page, and all spending going through proper channels, unattached to big legislative packages.