Mike Lee on Government Reform
Unlike legislative bodies in other countries, Congress does not have a general-purpose license to legislate for the "good of the public"; it must act pursuant to an affirmative constitutional grant of authority. In other words, Congress lacks what jurists and political scientists characterize as "general police powers." And it lacks such powers by explicit design.
This original understanding was reverently observed for nearly a century and a half. This limited purpose understanding began to crumble during the era of the New Deal.
Guided by this exceedingly permissive standard, which remains in effect to this day, Congress has been steadily expanding the scope of its authority since 1937.
For a variety of reasons, the Supreme Court is unlikely to retreat from this standard. We therefore cannot rely on the Supreme Court to restore a constitutional form of government to America. But fortunately, there is another way of recovering what has been lost.
Restoring constitutionally limited government must, I believe, be accomplished through the political process and not through the courts. The fact that federal courts have been disinclined to enforce that obligation since 1937 does not mean that the requirement no longer exists.
Yet, such debate & discussion is unlikely to occur in Congress until voters demand it.
Still, in 2009, I doubted any candidate could get elected on such a platform. I thought voters would be bored by talk about things like Article I, Section 8 (where the Constitution lists nearly every power possessed by Congress), the Tenth Amendment (explaining that powers not granted to Congress are reserved to the states), textualism (a strict, literal reading of the Constitution), and originalism (a reading that focuses on the founding generation's understanding of each word and phrase at the time it was added to the Constitution).
Many members of Congress would adhere to this strategy if a large, vocal segment of their constituency demanded it and voted on the issue.
Each of America's 50 state governments is sovereign within its own sphere of authority and is not a mere political subdivision of a single, national sovereign. Given that the most basic purpose of government is to maintain order and prevent anarchy, the federal government should go to great lengths to prevent the kind of conflict and confusion that emerges when one sovereign government steps on another's domain.
Because Congress, unlike the states, is vastly exceeding its authority today, it is Congress's powers that must be curtailed. Otherwise the distinction between federal and state power will continue to fade, risking a dangerous clash between the federal government and aggrieved state representatives.
Lee said that his views match Utahns who "are reclaiming their right to constitutionally limited government. We have to focus on limiting the size, scope, reach and power of the federal government."
The Contract from America, clause 1. Protect the Constitution:
Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
The Contract from America, clause 5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington:
Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality,
The Contract from America, clause 9. Stop the Pork:
Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
Congressional summary:: Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act: Requires the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards and definitions in effect on January 1, 2010, for determining whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status as an organization operated exclusively for social welfare to apply to such determinations after enactment of this Act. Prohibits any regulation, or other ruling, not limited to a particular taxpayer relating to such standards and definitions.
Proponent's argument in favor (Heritage Action, Feb. 26, 2014): H.R. 3865 comes in the wake of an attack on the Tea Party and other conservative organizations. The current IRS regulation is so broad and ill-defined that the IRS applies a "facts and circumstances" test to determine what constitutes "political activity" by an organization. This test can vary greatly depending on the subjective views of the particular IRS bureaucrat applying the test. IRS employees took advantage of this vague and subjective standard to unfairly delay granting tax-exempt status to Tea Party organizations and subject them to unreasonable scrutiny.
Text of sample IRS letter to Tea Party organizations:We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for exemption. Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or officer whose name is listed on your application.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
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AK: Murkowski(R) vs.Begich(D) vs.Lamb(R)
AL: Shelby(R) vs.Crumpton(D) vs.Bowman(R)
AR: Boozman(R) vs.Eldridge(D) vs.Gilbert(L) vs.
AZ: McCain(R) vs.Ward(R) vs.Kirkpatrick(D) vs.Mealer(I)
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CO: Bennet(D) vs.Glenn(R) vs.Neville(R) vs.Frazier(R) vs.Keyser(R) vs.Littleton(R)
CT: Blumenthal(D) vs.Kudlow(R) vs.Wolf(R) vs.
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GA: Isakson(R) vs.
HI: Schatz(D) vs.Hanabusa(D)
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ID: Crapo(R) vs.LaRocco(D) vs.Minnick(D)
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KY: Paul(R) vs.Conway(D) vs.Chandler(D)
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MD: Edwards(D) vs.Van Hollen(D) vs.Flowers(G) vs.Szeliga(R) vs.Douglas(R) vs.Steele(R)
MO: Blunt(R) vs.Kander(D)
NC: Burr(R) vs.Rey(D) vs.Ross(D) vs.Wright(R) vs.
NH: Ayotte(R) vs.Hassan(D) vs.
NV: Cortez-Masto(D) vs.Heck(R) vs.Angle(R) vs.
NY: Schumer(D) vs.King(R) vs.Gibson(R)
OH: Portman(R) vs.Strickland(D) vs.Sittenfeld(D)
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UT: Lee(R) vs.Swinton(D)
WA: Murray(D) vs.Vance(R)
WI: Johnson(R) vs.Feingold(D) vs.Lorge(R)