The Coming Constitutional Debate

Matthew Spalding /

The Constitution has returned to Congress. It began with a ceremonial reading of the document on the House floor for the first time in US history. While the event had some problems, the act of reading the document that provides the authority for Congress in the first place sets the tone and defines the core purpose of the new Congress: to restore constitutional limits on the federal government.

The real test comes with the debates over the new House rule requiring that each piece of legislation cite its constitutional authority. “A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor has submitted for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution,” reads Rule XII. Objections over a particular constitutional citation will be subject to debate.  And the first good fight will be over the repeal of Obamacare. (more…)