The Legislative Branch and Separation of Powers continued…

When emergencies occur and politicians consider certain bills as urgent and feel they must be passed immediately with little or no discussions, “We the People” need to be suspicious. Emergency/crisis situations provide opportunities for those who view the Constitution as a changeable document to institute such changes in the Constitution that the American people would normally not tolerate. These changes always take away our freedoms and chip away at liberty.

Earmarks are another practice that has taken root in the past fifty years. One of the Democrat speakers of the House thought this system up as a way of buying votes for sweeping legislation that was proving hard to pass. Earmarks allow individual Congressmen and Senators to be given money for their pet projects in exchange for their support of legislation most of the people of this nation would never approve. These elected officials can then claim to be bringing home money and jobs to their districts – “bringing home the bacon.”

Since Congressmen run for election every two years, they never cease to campaign even when they are new to the job. They are constantly concerned with raising money for the next election. After each election and before taking office, all newly elected Congressmen and Senators go through an orientation to help them understand the system. Part of that system is learning how to write legislation or a bill. Each house of Congress can introduce bills which are identified by a specific number. House bills have HB before the bill number, indicating the House of origination. Senate bills have SB before the number. Once introduced, the bill goes to the appropriate committee for approval. Usually it will go to as many as three committees before presentation to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote. Although some committees even have subcommittees.

All bills that require funding go through the Appropriations Committee, which is the most powerful committee in each of the Houses. When a House bill passes, it then moves to the Senate and starts the committee process again. If it passes the Senate, it goes to a joint committee of the House and Senate for any revisions or compromises. It is then voted on once again (that is how Representatives can claim to vote for or against a bill before they voted for it). If it passes, it moves to the White House for approval.

The President has ten days (excluding Sundays) in which to sign the bill into law or to exercise his veto. If the ten days passes without a signature, the bill automatically becomes law. If the bill is vetoed by the President, the Congress can override that veto with a two-thirds vote. This process is part of the built-in checks and balances that the Founders felt was the key to preventing any one group from attaining too much power.

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
-James Madison

Today, however, our system of separation of powers has become a structure that encourages gridlock or stalemate. Therefore, what cannot be accomplished today legislatively is being accomplished by the court system. The judiciary are circumventing the legislative process, and in so doing, making a mockery of “We the People.” They have also become the most powerful branch of government, whereas originally, they were intended to be the weakest.

Next Week: Christmas Spirit Everyday

Question for Discussion: Should Congressmen and US Senators feel that their main goal is to “bring home the bacon”? Is this ethical, moral or honorable?