Congress’s $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill And Unconstitutional Proxy Voting Go On Trial In Texas
Joe Biden’s signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 may, in effect, be null and void by day’s end if a federal judge in Lubbock, Texas, agrees with the state’s attorney general that the $1.7 trillion spending bill was never validly enacted because the House of Representatives lacked a constitutionally mandated quorum.
The bench trial in this hugely important case, State of Texas v. Dept. of Justice, begins at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Monday before district court Judge James Hendrix — a Trump appointee who was first nominated by Barack Obama.
Here’s your lawsplainer so you can follow along with the developments.
Pelosi Playing Fast and Loose with the Constitution
On Feb. 15, 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit in State of Texas v. Dept. of Justice, challenging the constitutionality of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. As Paxton’s lawsuit explained, the omnibus spending bill originated in the House of Representatives as Resolution 2617. After the lower chamber passed H.R. 2617 in September 2021, the bill went to the Senate, which passed a different version of the bill in November 2022.
Because the spending bills differed, Congress needed to reconcile them, with each body then required to pass the amended version. On Dec. 22, 2022, the Senate approved the House’s amendments to the bill, with the House meeting the next day to consider the Senate’s changes.
As I explained shortly after Paxton sued the Biden administration, here’s where the constitutional problem arose:
When the House met on Dec. 23, 2022, to vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, it lacked a quorum to conduct business. Only 201 of the representatives were present. Nonetheless, the House proceeded with the vote. But it didn’t just count the votes of the present members. It added to the tally an extra
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