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Public Statements

We are Now in the Silly System

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Madam Speaker, despite advice to the contrary, our Constitution establishes a government with two sovereigns, the Nation and the individual States. They worried about that in Philadelphia. In fact, James Wilson wondered if this system would be like two meteors on a collision course, the collision of which would be catastrophic, or if this system would be like the solar system where the planets stayed in their sphere and course and did not interfere with one another. That latter vision we call federalism. It is stated in the 10th Amendment where each level of government had a specific and distinct responsibility.

When the States were interfering with the Federal Government, it produced historical catastrophic consequences. But also when the Federal Government interferes with the role of States, the consequences range from being catastrophic to just plain silly. We are now in the silly system.

In 2010, this Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. We were wrong to pass it for five reasons: number one, it was a Senate bill. That should have been our first tip-off; number two, it was opposed by the National Governors Association; three, it was opposed by the National School Boards Association; four, it violated the Constitution.

You see, the Federal Government's only advantage is that everyone has to do the same thing in the same way at the same time. The Federal Government can impose that. But schools are given to the States because they require creativity, efficiency, and justice.

Finally, number five: we created a one-size-fits-all Federal program not defined by us. We simply passed this grand idea and then gave power to a Secretary in some building here in Washington to come up with some kind of standards.

Two schools in my district have now been hit by those standards. I care about those schools because from one I graduated a long time ago, and the other I taught for 23 years. They were hit with a $16,000 and $19,000 fine respectively. What was the heinous crime for which these fines were levied against the funds that go to help the kids in these schools? During the lunch hour, their vending machines were plugged in. These vending machines were not in the cafeteria. That violated the standards. They were down in a different part of the school. But since the kids walked out of the cafeteria with their lunches and walked down the hallway towards the gym where the vending machines were and there was not a wall, by our standards, to stop them from doing that, the entire school was designated as a cafeteria and the schools were then penalized.

You see, by the standards that were created, if a kid buys a Coke and then takes it to lunch to drink, that's nutritional. But if he buys his lunch first and then goes down to buy a Coke, that is now, by our standards, unhealthy. Snickers by our standards are healthy food; licorice is not. Ice cream is healthy; Swedish Fish are not. Apparently by our standards, anything that could stick to your mouth is not a healthy food. Starbursts are out; Milky Ways are in.

It was wrong for Congress to pass a law without taking the time to establish standards that were rational by ourselves and giving that power to another body. It was wrong for Congress to invade the role of States. It was wrong to punish kids for these silly reasons. It is wrong to violate federalism. If a community school and their PTA wanted to create these standards themselves, fine.

Federalism means people at the local level should be free to create any decisions they want to do, even if those decisions are dumb. It is wrong for this body to think that every issue has to be decided here in this room, and it is wrong for us to forget that the 10th Amendment has a purpose. It is there for a reason. It should be respected.


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