Friday, January 21, 2011


This is Lynn Jenkins, she doesn't represent us, and she doesn't understand the Constitution

Having invented a new Holocaust,
And been the first with it to win a war,
How they make haste to cry with fingers crossed,
King's X—no fair to use it any more!
                                               -Robert Frost
H.R. 339, the much ballyhooed Lynn Jenkins opus, the End the Lame Duck Act has been filed in the House.  Jenkins managed to get 26 other Members of Congress to sign on to this poorly crafted bit of propaganda.  It is as though these 27 Representatives are waving a flag proclaiming their utter ignorance of the Constitution.  This is not a good bill.
The bill starts off with a big exception. We are going to adjourn sine die if we are properly adjourned on election day. Even a blind elephant can stumble around that exception. So this is the end the Lame Duck Session Maybe Bill. Of course Jenkins didn't really mean to say that the lame duck session would be ended. Of course not, she wrote in even more exceptions.

The first exception shines a bright light on Jenkins' failure to understand the Constitution and the Congress as an institution. Her first formal exception deals with counting electors. Gee, that's great. Jenkins wants the lame duck Congress to cast votes in the archaic process of formally electing the President and Vice President.  The language of her bill says "(1) COUNTING OF ELECTORS- Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to prohibit the Congress from meeting to count electoral votes pursuant to section 15 of title 3, United States Code."  Read the full text at Thomas, the web site for the Library of Congress at:

Two problems with Lynn's Lame Bill. The first problem takes us back to the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution. That was the change to the Constitution where the start of the new Congress was accelerated to January 3rd following the general election for a new Congress every two years and for President and Vice President every four years. Remember that date, January 3rd.

The second problem, again of Constitutional dimension, is that the counting of the votes of the electoral college are governed under the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution . This Amendment does not allow the former Congress to have any authority in the counting of the votes of the electors. What is really pathetic about this section of Jenkins' opus is that she correctly references the federal statute codifying the appropriate provision of the Twelfth Amendment, 3 U.S.C. § 15.  That law begins: 
"Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer."
If the new Congress starts on January 3rd, as the Twentieth Amendment says it does, and the Congress meets on January 6th to perform their roll in counting the votes of the electors of the Electoral College, then H.R. 339 doesn't make any sense.  H.R. 339 doesn't make any sense.  You'd think a person claiming to be a Certified Public Accountant would be good enough at math to know that 6 follows 3. 

Which goes to show that you can read the Constitution on the floor of the House but you can't get Members to understand it. The new Congress, not the former, counts the votes of the electors. Jenkins just gets it wrong, as usual.

Now when Jenkins says the Congress is to adjourn sine die she didn't really mean it. She meant that it would adjourn for good if and only if the:

the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the majority leader of the Senate, or their respective designees, acting jointly and with the written agreement of the minority leader of the House and the minority leader of the Senate, may notify the Members of the House and Senate, respectively, to reassemble if each determines that it is in the interest of the United States to do so.
So if those in the driver's seat just got tossed out, then maybe they'd see it in the nation's interest to keep legislating up to the bitter end. That way they can get everything done they want to get done.

Of course Jenkins wouldn't want the government to have any money problems while the Congress is dormant. That's why she provides for AUTOMATIC CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS in her bill. This section seems to undercut the reasoning for not having lame duck sessions. Consider that the electorate, We the People, may be fed up with the spending habits of a given Congress and vote to throw the rascals out. What good is it to have thrown out the rascals only to have their spending policies put on automatic pilot?

H.R. 339 reminds me of Robert Frost's poem Kings X. Jenkins' crosses her fingers and cries "Kings X" only we can end the lame duck session when and if we want to end the lame duck session. And the money keeps getting spent on automatic pilot. "King's X, only kidding, didn't really mean it" is what Jenkins seems to be saying. HR. 339 is a really bad bill.

No comments:

Post a Comment