Three House members sat down with HUMAN EVENTS this afternoon to discuss their vision for a newly formed Congressional Constitution Caucus.
The goal of the caucus is to "ensure that the Federal government is operating under the intent of the Tenth Amendment of our Bill of Rights," according to the official mission statement.
The Tenth Amendment says: "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."
And so, Rep. Scott Garrett (R.-N.J.), the caucus’ founder, along with Reps. Virginia Foxx (R.-N.C.) and Rob Bishop (R.-Utah) are heading up a team of House members dedicated to downsizing the amount of power usurped from the states by the federal government.
After serving for a dozen years as a congressman at the state level Garrett said he realized how much the federal government was telling the states what they could and couldn’t do. He said his primary reason for coming to Washington was to form a caucus to change that.
Less than a month into its founding, the caucus has attracted nearly 30 members. Garrett has attempted to reach across party lines, but has yet to receive applications from Democrats. Still, he said he would like to see a bipartisan group come together.
While Garrett spends time getting press coverage and promoting communication across the board, Foxx is focused on connecting with groups advocating similar interests outside congressional circles. And Bishop has been tasked with reaching out to other members and building awareness by speaking out on the House floor.
Bishop said with a grin that his main strategy will be to "whine a lot" because "it seems to be very effective up here."
On a more serious note, the congressman said he plans to first, explain to other members the premise behind the tenth amendment, emphasizing that while the federal government may have good intentions, much of its power should be turned back over to the states. In other words, the federal government should "simply do less."
Second, Bishop said the caucus will help bills that promote its mission to move forward by coordinating floor discussions back to back.
"We’ll keep harping on the issue until [people] start to notice," he said.
Garrett said that while they realize successs won’t happen overnight the caucus has come up with some realistic immediate and long-term strategies for accomplishing its mission.
Bills currently backed by the caucus include:
1. An education bill (H.R. 3449) sponsored by Rep. John Culberson (R.-Tex.) that would give states back control of their schools
2. Sunsetting bills (such as H.R. 1227) offered by Rep. Kevin Brady (R.-Tex.) and others that would allow for an evaluation and termination of government programs that are no longer useful.
3. And a bill that would limit the duration of Federal consent decrees to which state and local governments are a party (H.R. 1229) sponsored by Rep. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.)
Foxx said she doesn’t think people can be educated enough about the limited powers given the federal government by the constitution. It’s main focus was not supposed to be programs such as welfare and medicaid.
"The number one role of the federal government is defense of the nation," she said. "We’ve lost sight of that."
Here’s the full mission statement, for those interested:
The Congressional Constitution Caucus will be an effective forum to ensure that the Federal government is operating under the intent of the Tenth Amendment of our Bill of Rights.
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.
These historic words, penned by our Founding Fathers, some of the most ingenious political minds this world has ever known, set forth an important principle: The Federal government may exercise the specific powers that are listed in the Constitution, and the States and the people may exercise all remaining powers.
Unfortunately, as the authors of the Constitution have long since passed, so too have many of their foundations for our system of government. Between an ever-expanding Federal bureaucracy that for decades has crept into many facets of traditionally locally controlled government to a Federal judiciary that time and time again completely ignores the intent of the Tenth Amendment, the Federal government has become wildly inefficient and is hemorrhaging tax dollars.
The Congressional State and Community Rights Caucus will point out that not only is state and local control over programs in line with the Constitution, it is a much more cost-effective and efficient way to provide many domestic services to American citizens.
In light of the looming fiscal crisis of our Federal budget and domestic programs that are simply not reaching their intended goals, it is imperative to highlight the need to return to a system intended under the “reserve clause” of the Constitution.