Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 on Dec. 29, but it was invalid, as the House did not pass the Omnibus Spending Bill the president purportedly signed into legislation. This is what Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton claims in an obscure claim. Lawsuit He filed a complaint against the Biden administration last week. If a court agrees, the taxpayer-funded $1.7 trillion federal spending spree — and every other aspect of that bill — could be rendered void.
While the “if” While that sentence may seem to do some heavy lifting it is not because Paxton isn’t a strong litigant on the facts or the law. His complaint is actually in Paxton v. Department of Justice The House of Representatives failed to have the constitutionally mandated majority necessary to pass the Appropriations Act makes it seem unassailable. However, the sheer magnitude of a court passing an omnibus bill could lead to the judicial branch being unable to perform its constitutional responsibility.
Paxton’s lawsuit shows that the appropriations bill started as House Resolution 2617. This was passed by the lower chamber in September 2021. The Senate approved a different version in November 2022. Due to the fact that the bills were not identical, they had to be reconciled. On Dec. 22, 2022 the Senate approved the House amendments to the bill. The next day, the House members met to discuss the Senate’s changes.
Paxton’s lawsuit explains that this is the point where the constitutional problem began. The House lacked the quorum necessary to conduct business when it met Dec. 23, 2022 to vote on Consolidated Appropriations Act. Only 201 representatives were present. The House proceeded to vote. The House didn’t simply count the votes of current members. It also added 226 votes that were cast by House lawmakers on behalf absent members. “proxies.”
Although the total votes of those physically present was 88 yeas and 112 nays respectively, the House clerk noted that the bill passed by a margin ranging from 225 yea to 201 nay and 1 present. He relied on a rule adopted in May 2020 that allowed members the ability to vote. “designate another Member as a proxy” To “cast the vote” Designating Member “a public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus is in effect[.]”
Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Dec. 29), purporting it to make it law, and providing appropriations in the next fiscal year. Paxton’s complaint states that the Consolidated Appropriations Act was never made law because the House proxy rule violated the Constitution’s quorum clause.
As Article I of the Constitution quorum clause says:
Each House shall judge the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members. A majority of each House shall constitute a Quorum for Business. But a smaller Number can adjourn from day-to-day and may be authorized by the Speaker to require the Attendance of
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