U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) this week introduced the Enumerated Powers Act. The bill highlights the importance of the Tenth Amendment and gives members of Congress new procedural tools to stop unconstitutional legislation.
"A major reason why we are facing tough economic challenges is because Congress has ignored our founding documents which are designed to limit its role. Until we reconnect Congress with its limited and enumerated powers we will never put our nation back on a sustainable fiscal course," Dr. Coburn said.
"This bill is important because too many members of Congress believe they know best and no longer need to consult the document that is their foundational legal authority. If members of Congress want to ignore the Constitution they should at least explain their intent, and provide other members procedural tools to express their concerns," Dr. Coburn said.
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said this about the "blank check" philosophy of government that dominates the modern Congress: With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of [enumerated] powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
Moreover, the Tenth Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The Enumerated Powers Act requires the following:
1) 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.
2) Failure to include such an explanation gives "rise to a point of order in either House of Congress."
3) In the Senate, the point of order must be voted on by the Senate. Up to three hours of debate is allowed on the point of order.
In addition to Coburn, Senate sponsors include McConnell, Kyl, Thune, Graham, Crapo, Inhofe, Enzi, Burr, Wicker, Brownback, McCain, Chambliss, Ensign, Grassley, Vitter, Barrasso, DeMint, Hutchison, Bunning and Risch.