Toomey Signs on to Commerce Clause End-Run Bill

Official PortraitLimiting the scope of government, and reverting to a more literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, are major priorities of GOP lawmakers and their base.

To that end, movement conservatives have been trying for the last 18 years to introduce legislation forcing all other laws to be made with clear constitutional roots.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey signed on to that effort this month when he signed on as a co-sponsor of the Enumerated Powers Act of 2013. The bill is sponsored by Tea Party stars Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

“With this bill, we are returning Congress to its place under the limits of the U.S. Constitution and making government a better steward of Americans’ hard-earned dollars,” Toomey said.

The legislation is seen by its supporters as a way to defend against government overreach by requiring all acts of Congress to “contain a concise explanation of the specific authority in the Constitution” that allows the particular action.

“Many of our nation’s fiscal woes can be linked to Congress’s ignorance of, and refusal to follow, the clear Constitutional limitations on our power to legislate,” said Paul.

With only 35 co-sponsors the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate or even committee. Each are given a 2% and 5% chance respectively by Govtrack.us, a site meant to foster government transparency.

The biggest problem with the legislation? It seeks to circumvent decades of federal jurisprudence by imposing a new restriction on Congress’s use of the Constitution.

The bill: “Prohibits the use of the Commerce Clause, except for ‘the regulation of the buying and selling of goods or services, or the transporting for those purposes, across boundaries with foreign nations, across State lines, or with Indian tribes…’”

Congress has used the Commerce Clause to underpin lots of legislation, from Medicaid to labor laws. Constitutional conservatives frequently have complained that the clause is overused, but the current balance has been struck over the past century by the U.S. Supreme Court – the branch of government whose role it is to interpret the Constitution.

The move by Toomey to support the measure may be an effort to secure his right flank, after receiving some flack from supporters in April of this year for his work with Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on gun control.

August 12th, 2013 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Senate, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Toomey Signs on to Commerce Clause End-Run Bill”

  1. bobguzzardi says:

    Unless G-d intervenes, there will be Continuing Resolution vote on September 30th, at the latest, which will fund the government’s discretionary budget with or without funding Obamacare. If Pat Toomey votes YEA to fund Obamacare, it can only mean he supports Obamacare and has decided to abandon his Tea Party base.

  2. Observer says:

    Toomey is all about the Tea Party platitudes, but only when it coincides with the financial interests of his owners on Wall Street. Pat LOVES big government, when it comes to things like mass surveillance and war-time levels of Defense spending. And because Big Pharma was in on the ObamaCare fix, he is all for it, too.

  3. Adam says:

    The irony here is pretty stunning. They want Congress to pass a law that that defines their interpretation of the Constitution, despite the fact that the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the power to interpret the Constitution. In fact, if Congress can pass a law that defines what the Constitution says, doesn’t that make the Constitution meaningless? While making reverence to the Constitution, these idiots propose a law that eviscerates it.

  4. delco observer says:

    Toomey goes full teabagger…so much for the moderate meme this site and his handlers were trying to manufacture! Can’t wait until 2016 to vote this guy out!

  5. 13thDistDem says:

    While this makes for a great talking point, it would functionally do things like repeal the federal prohibition on child labor.

  6. bobguzzardi says:

    Sponsoring legislation is not the same as passing legislation, particularly, when Big Government advocates pushing to ever expand government dominate the Senate.

    The key votes that make a real difference are the “must pass” Continuing Resolution September 30th with a “Defund Obamacare” amendment and the Debt Ceiling vote a short time later.

    These are the votes The Forgotten Taxpayer who think the “literal”, meaning the government of limited and enumerated powers with checks and balances under a Rule of Law is a good idea. There are those, like, the author, who think these words are ink on paper.

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