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Texas AG victorious after court rules Pelosi-led Congress' $1.7B spending bill was passed unlawfully
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Texas AG victorious after court rules Pelosi-led Congress' $1.7B spending bill was passed unlawfully

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued President Joe Biden and members of his administration last year over the ratification and implementation of the $1.7 trillion Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2023.

Paxton said the mammoth spending bill — which contains at least one provision affecting the Lone Star State — was unlawful and therefore unenforceable because Congress, using the pandemic for cover, violated the Constitution in order to pass it.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas agreed with Paxton in its ruling Tuesday, stating that the former Congress run by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had indeed violated the Constitution, specifically the Quorum Clause contained with Article I, Section 5.

"Congress acted egregiously by passing the largest spending bill in U.S. history with fewer than half the members of the House bothering to do their jobs, show up, and vote in person," Paxton said in a statement.

"Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution," added the Republican AG. "This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the Court upheld the Constitution."

The lawsuit

The State of Texas' original complaint noted that on Dec. 23, 2022, only 201 congressional lawmakers were present in the House's chamber — less than half of the members required for a quorum.

The suit stressed that the Constitution defines absent members "as excluded from 'a Quorum to do Business' and therefore unauthorized to vote to enact legislation — by 'proxy' or otherwise."

The Quorum Clause states: "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide."

While only constitutionally empowered at that stage to "adjourn from day to day" and "compel the attendance of absent Members," the Lone Star State's lawsuit indicated the House "nevertheless purported to accept the Senate's amendments to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 on that day" under a novel rule enabling absent members to vote by proxy.

After agreeing to the latest round of Senate amendments in a 225-201 vote, the bill was presented to Biden on Dec. 28 then signed the next day, becoming law.

Not only was the bill's passage unconstitutional, the unlawful bill adversely impacted Texas, according to Paxton's lawsuit. After all, the spending bill imposed new legal obligations on employers in the state via the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and created new programs permitting the release of illegal aliens into the homeland, specifically the Department of Homeland Security's Case Management Pilot Program.

Various Republican congressmen joined the Mountain States Legal Foundation in filing an amicus brief to the district court last year, stressing that the "United States has endured for nearly 250 years because of our commitments to the Constitution and to representative government. The COVID-19 pandemic is no excuse to abandon these commitments."

The ruling

U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix noted in his opinion Tuesday that "[f]or over 235 years, Congress understood the Constitution's Quorum Clause to require a majority of members of the House or Senate to be physically present to constitute the necessary quorum to pass legislation."

Judge Hendrix evidently figured the Constitution trumps the former Democrat-run Congress' 2020 House rule allowing non-present members to be included in the quorum count and deemed the defendants' counterarguments "unpersuasive."

"Given the Constitution's text, original public meaning, and historical practice, the Court concludes that the House cannot count members voting by proxy to constitute a constitutionally compliant quorum," added the judge.

Hendrix underscored that by "including members who were indisputably absent in the quorum count, the Act at issue passed in violation of the Constitution's Quorum Clause."

While Hendrix indicated Texas had failed to demonstrate its entitlement to a permanent injunction of the Case Management Pilot Program, he noted the Lone Star State had successfully done so with regard to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The court ultimately enjoined U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and their corresponding officials from enforcing the PWFA.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which served as co-counsel in the case, stated, "The Court correctly concluded that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 violated the Quorum Clause of the U.S. Constitution because a majority of House members was not physically present when the $1.7 trillion spending bill was passed. Proxy voting is unconstitutional."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News. He lives in a small town with his wife and son, moonlighting as an author of science fiction.
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