Reading about Boehner’s latest debt ceiling proposal many things come to mind, unconstitutional, rendering Congress powerless, creating a nearly almighty legislative body, which consist of only a dozen people. But let us take a look at what started the discussion about this outrageous plan.
The Huffington Post reported yesterday evening, that House Speaker John Boehner wants to create a new legislative body, called the “Super Congress”, but read for yourself.
This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.
This would basically institutionalize the meeting of congressional leaders, while not a bad thing in itself, the powers these twelve lawmakers would receive are even more scandalous.
Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.
It needs to be clear, that these are rumors and not verifiable facts, yet if they were true, they would have dire consequences for the federal government and the whole country.
This proposal is not only preposterous, but also unconstitutional, because Article 1 Section 1 states: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
Due to the wording, no legislative body besides Congress can exist on a federals level and Congress has to consist of the Senate and the House, and not a “joint committee” which has never been elected by the people.
Congress would be nearly powerless, because budget bills introduced by this new “Super Congress” could merely be voted on by the House and the Senate, depriving regular lawmakers of the power to amend these bills. Keeping in mind that the budget is one of the most important responsibilities of Congress, this new committee would change that. Nonetheless the “joint committee” would not be able to introduce a bill including new taxes, because Article 1 Section 7.1 says: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
Every bill they introduce would also be bipartisan, because the committee is planned to consist of six Republicans and six Democrats, which would make it very difficult for Senators and Congressmen to explain a vote against a bipartisan measure to their constituents.
The thing most people are probably afraid of is that this committee could try to extend its powers and eventually end up as an almighty part of the legislative branch.
But I cannot stress enough that this is still not proven to be anything more than a rumor, mainly because there are just too few sources. Maybe John Boehner’s debt reduction plan, announced to be released later today, will shed light on this issue.