U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement Monday regarding a ruling in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Florida that the Democrats' health spending bill is "unconstitutional' and exceeds the bounds of Congressional authority:
"This ruling confirms what Americans have been saying for months: The health spending bill is a massive overreach and Democrats "exceeded the bounds' of Congressional authority under the Constitution in passing the law with the individual mandate. Rather than penalizing Americans if they don't buy a particular product that Washington decides is best, we should repeal this health spending bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will actually lower costs, prevent unsustainable entitlement promises and make it easier for employers to start hiring again."
Background on the Senate Republican amicus brief:
Sen. McConnell and 31 of his Senate colleagues noted the federal government's overreach in their amicus brief filed in the Florida case on November 18, 2010:
"Indeed, in more than 200 years of debate as to the proper scope of the Commerce Power, the Supreme Court has never suggested that the Commerce Power allows Congress to impose affirmative obligations on passive individuals, or to punish individuals for failing to purchase a particular product."
As Congress's own non-partisan research arm noted, the individual mandate "is a novel issue: whether Congress can use its Commerce Clause authority to require a person to buy a good or a service."
"If Congress can use the Commerce Power to punish a decision not to engage in a private activity, on the basis that the future consequences of this choice, in the aggregate, would substantially affect interstate commerce, there is seemingly no private decision Congress could not regulate or no activity it could not force private citizens to undertake . . . when, in the aggregate, it concludes that doing so would benefit the economy. For example, this same rationale would allow Congress to punish individuals for not purchasing health-related products, like vitamin supplements, on the ground that their failure to do so would increase health care costs by not ameliorating or preventing health conditions, like osteoporosis."
And as the Supreme Court has already noted, "Thus, if we were to accept the Government's arguments, we are hard pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate."
Background on the upcoming repeal vote in the Senate
The Senate Republican Leader began the process last week, via Rule 14, of getting the House-passed repeal bill on the Senate Calendar. It is now available for a vote. Sen. McConnell assured his Senate colleagues that there will be a vote soon on repealing the health spending bill.