Sam Brownback on Government Reform
Republican Sr Senator (KS)
A: I have chaired the DC Subcommittee, both the authorizing and the Appropriations subcommittee. I support the residents of DC the right to vote. But there’s a way to do it and there’s a way not to do it. And the way to do it is to amend the Constitution, and the way not to do it is to pass something that’s unconstitutional. In the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, it gave D.C. the right to vote for president. But it didn’t give them the right to vote for Congress. And what you have to do what we have to do. And what I support is amending the Constitution so they can have the right to vote. D.C. deserves that right. There’s a way to do it, there’s a way not to do it.
Since self-government can only be cultivated, not coerced, it has been the work of culture-shaping institutions to encourage and equip individuals and groups to, on the one hand, exercise self-restraint and self-discipline, and, on the other, show concern and compassion for others. The frailty of cultural institutions, therefore, cannot be compensated for by increasing the power and reach of government. The work of cultivating virtue is one of moral suasion, not of legislation. The Senate could pass a law tomorrow requiring that we all love one another, but little would change. Law is a teacher, but it cannot effectively mold character. Without vigorous and vibrant cultural institutions, the development of democratic character will not occur.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
For example, I am a big fan of McDonald's. What about the kids working behind the counter? Would they be considered registered lobbyists because McDonald's has lobbyists? Would I not be able to go to lunch with my longtime friend who owns 12 McDonald's?
A bill to require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws.
Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.
Constitutional Authority for This Act: This Act proposes to establish new procedures by which legislation shall be considered by Congress and is enacted pursuant to the power granted Congress under article I, section 5, clause 2, of the United States Constitution establishing that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.
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