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Restoring the 10th Amendment Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, today I wish to express my support for the Restoring the 10th Amendment Act--S. 1643. This legislation, which I have introduced with nine of my colleagues, represents an effort to ensure that States' rights are protected against further Federal encroachment.

Ratified and signed into law on December 15, 1791, the 10th Amendment is integral to the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers conceived. The Founders were right to be concerned that the Federal Government would seek to usurp powers belonging to the States. They understood that limitless Federal power was a threat to the future of our democracy.

In The Federalist No. 45, James Madison notes the difference between Federal and State power. He describes the powers that the Constitution grants to the Federal government as ``few and defined.'' He calls the powers left to the States as ``numerous and indefinite.''

Today, we can plainly see how wise our Founders were. As we enter into the second term of the Obama administration, Federal regulatory overreach has become an intrusive part of everyday life in the United States. From the President's sweeping health-care law to the extreme rulemaking of the Environmental Protection Agency, there is virtually no aspect of Americans' lives that escapes the creeping reach of Federal regulators.

The Restoring the 10th Amendment Act seeks to reverse this trend and to level the playing field by giving States a new tool to challenge Federal overreach. Specifically, it provides special standing in court for State government officials to dispute inordinately sweeping regulations issued by Federal agencies. Any rule proposed by a Federal agency would be subject to constitutional challenges if certain State officials determine that the rule infringes powers reserved to the States under the 10th Amendment. In this way, the bill would reinforce the safeguards in our existing system of constitutional checks and balances.

Americans have the right to expect the members they elect to Congress to uphold the Constitution's founding principles. It is our responsibility to ensure that the executive branch is held accountable for any overreach of its constitutionally defined powers.

This bill recognizes that the 10th Amendment is as important today as it was on the date of its ratification. It would keep the executive branch accountable and preserve the integrity of our constitutional system of checks and balances. Senators Cochran, Grassley, Isakson, Sessions, Roberts, Thune, Inhofe, Crapo, Risch, Enzi, and Cornyn have joined me as cosponsors.

I urge all of my colleagues to support the prompt passage of the Restoring the 10th Amendment Act.

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