I told you on Saturday that House Republican leadership's bark was worse than their bite when they declared that they would use the debt ceiling issue as leverage to get spending cuts. Well lo and behold, Wednesday they will be voting to increase the debt ceiling and their legislation may just be unconstitutional as well.
Fox News reports,
House Republicans are teeing up a vote this week on a new debt ceiling bill, marking the first legislative battle of President Obama's second term and one that could determine whether the country once again risks default over a political fight.
House leaders, after unveiling the legislation Monday, are planning to hold a vote Wednesday on their plan to allow the government to keep borrowing through May 18.
While the short-term increase is getting mixed reviews, the second plank of the legislation -- meant to pressure Senate Democrats to pass a budget -- has also raised questions.
Under the proposal, Congress would withhold the pay of lawmakers in either the House or the Senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget by April 15. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years, but the Senate hasn't passed one since Obama's first year in office.
You may say, yeah but see how they put in that little bit about the Senate passing a budget by April 15. However, I ask you which goes into effect first? Obviously, House Republicans in leadership are not very good poker players. Should they pass this on Wednesday, and it looks like they will, they will be folding on the debt ceiling issue. They have no way of getting the spending back or decreasing the deficits run up by May 18, and guess what? We'll be right back to another manufactured crisis again.
It's as if these guys somehow want to ride shotgun with Barack Obama and the Democrats as they plunge us off the cliff and completely wreck us financially.
Before you judge my statement, remember, the only thing the Senate has to do is pass a budget with spending cuts in it. I've warned you before, when it comes to Washington there is no such thing as spending cuts. When they tell you they are cutting spending, they are telling you they are cutting projected spending, which increases every year. So they are never really cutting spending.
Additionally, you will notice that built into the Republican legislation are consequences for all lawmakers, both in the Senate and the House.
The measure also contains a "no budget, no pay" provision that withholds pay for lawmakers if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a congressional budget resolution by April 15. That's a provision designed to press the Senate to pass a budget.
Here's an interesting question, is that Constitutional? "What?" you exclaim. Enter the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution or as it is sometimes referred to, the "Congressional Compensation Amendment of 1789," the "Congressional Pay Amendment," or the "Madison Amendment." The Amendment reads,
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
While I am sympathetic to legislation that would keep these guys from getting paid, since they are not following the law and putting forth an annual budget, I am also for following the Constitution. Therefore, the legislation that has been put forward is unconstitutional, plain and simple.
The intent of the amendment was to restrain the power of Congress to set its own salary against a conflict of interest. While they do determine raises and such, they must wait until a new term of Congress convenes in order to see that raise take effect, and even that was desired to take effect after elections. North Carolina, Virginia, and New York, in coming to their ratification conventions in 1788, put amended language that indicates this was their intent.
North Carolina's convention at the time put forth the language of:
The laws ascertaining the compensation of senators and representatives, for their services, shall be postponed in their operation until after the election of representatives immediately succeeding the passing thereof; that excepted which shall first be passed on the subject.
Additionally, Virginia used similar wording to North Carolina, while New York asked Congress to consider the following:
That the Compensation for the Senators and Representatives be ascertained by standing law; and that no alteration of the existing rate of Compensation shall operate for the Benefit of the Representatives, until after a subsequent Election shall have been had.
Interestingly enough, New York never ratified the 27th amendment.
Instead of putting forth legislation that appears to be unconstitutional, why not demand that the law simply be followed or nothing gets done?
We haven't heard how much Barack Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling. He has not said. His parrot, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, isn't much help either in determining this figure. The only one that seems to have provided some sense of just how much they want to raise the debt ceiling is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He called for the debt ceiling to be raised $2.4 trillion to $18.794 trillion.
This is a bad move on the House Republican leadership's part. The only problem with it is that we, the taxpayers, will pay for their blunder and the continued spending of money we don't have.