Garrett Gazette - January 29, 2007
Last week, the majority of the House of Representatives acted in open defiance of the U.S. Constitution and granted voting rights to the delegates and commissioners representing the U.S. territories. Perhaps most disappointing was that this assault on the Constitution was little more than a brazen political maneuver by the new House leadership to further divide the House on partisan lines by boosting the number of Democrat votes.
Our Founding Fathers intended the legislative branch to represent the people of the states. The Constitution states, in Article I, Section 2, Clause 1, that "the House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen by the People of the several States." By definition, delegates do not represent states. In fact, while the average congressional district has approximately 650,000 people, three of the five territories have a population of less than 160,000 people. Additionally, the Constitution grants legislative powers to individuals who are "chosen every second year." The delegate for Puerto Rico, however, stands for re-election every four years.
Allowing Delegates to vote in the Committee of the Whole House is a step toward granting full voting rights to the District of Columbiaan action that clearly violates Article I, Section, 8, of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive authority to enact legislation "over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may become the Seat of the Government of the United States." As a former Democrat Speaker of the House said in a New York Times op-ed in 1992, when Congress last contemplated this very action, "It is very clear that a constitutional amendment would be required to give [delegates] a vote in the Committee of the Whole, or in the full House." The resolution passed last week is obviously not a constitutional amendmentit is an attempt to resurrect a shameful idea from the 103rd Congress in 1993.
Furthermore, this action is unfair to constituents who do live in states. Delegates representing Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico could vote to raise taxes. Yet their constituents would not be affected by the tax increase.
When Congress last granted this voting right to delegates in 1993, it faced a lawsuit in Federal court. The voting right was short-lived - it was repealed by Congress only two years later - and, therefore, the lawsuit was also cut short. I am hopeful, however, that the courts will have the opportunity this time to hear the case and support the U.S. Constitution.
Member of Congress
ISSUE OF THE WEEK: SUPPORTING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
Today, my office is participating in a celebration of Catholic Schools Week with Governor Corzine in Trenton. Last week, the House of Representatives voted to support Catholic Schools Week as well, and I was proud to give this statement in support of the resolution:
The hallmark of Catholic schools is their ability to provide students with a well-rounded education. By focusing on academic excellence based on strong morals, Catholic schools consistently graduate ethical scholars.
I strongly support H.Res. 51 because it recognizes this distinguished ability of Catholic schools. New Jersey's Fifth District is proud to be the home of numerous Catholic schools which are overseen by the dioceses of Newark, Metuchen and Paterson.
As we commend Catholic schools through this resolution and during next week's Catholic Schools Week, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the excellent administrators, teachers, parents, and students who make up the New Jersey Catholic School system. It is their dedication to their mission that has cultivated a lasting and celebrated program.
New Jersey's strong tradition of Catholic education can be traced back to the late eighteenth century when larger metropolitan areas started to erect schools which were supervised and supported by church authorities. Now, over 200 years later, Catholic schools can be found all over New Jersey, educating future leaders to serve their fellow statesmen and those who live far beyond our state line.
New Jersey Catholic Schools operate under the motto: "Learning to love. Loving to learn." This maxim pinpoints the consistent successful record of Catholic education: instilling a respect and concern for others while simultaneously sparking a genuine curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
It is with these things in mind that I whole-heartedly support H.Res. 51 and look forward to hearing of the continued successes of the Catholic School System, in New Jersey and all over the world.