A group of House Republicans is joining in an effort to overturn the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Ten House GOP members filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that seeks to overturn the omnibus spending bill passed in December 2022. The lawmakers claimed that the House proxy voting rule for the COVID pandemic meant that the omnibus bill was not legitimately passed. Paxton originally filed the lawsuit in February, seeking to overturn the massive spending bill on the same grounds.
“For 231 years, Congress has met in person,” the Republican members wrote in their brief, via The Hill. “The Constitution’s requirements survived wars, pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and numerous other crises through history, and Congress had never voted by proxy to enact bills before 2020. This is undoubtedly due to the Constitution’s language that establishes physical presence is necessary in the People’s House.”
“The House of Representatives’ adoption of proxy voting rules was unconstitutional on the day that it was announced; this Court therefore has the power—indeed the duty—to review and adjudicate the constitutionality of legislation enacted due only to proxy voting,” the members added. “In doing so, it should hold that the Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits, because the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 cannot be sustained as a proper exercise of Congress’s power to enact legislation.”
The 10 members who signed the brief were Reps. Chip Roy (TX); Morgan Griffith (VA); Andy Ogles and John Rose (TN): Harriet Hageman (WY); Andy Biggs (AZ); Clay Higgins (LA); Warren Davidson (OH); Gary Palmer (AL); and Matt Rosendale (MT). The Mountain States Legal Foundation filed the brief on behalf of the members.
The Texas Attorney General originally filed the suit in February. The suit claims that because only 201 members of the House of Representatives — less than half of the total number of voting members — were present in the chamber on the day the House voted on the omnibus bill, there was no quorum present. Therefore, the House could not do any business under the Constitution.
“The House nevertheless purported to accept the Senate’s amendments to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 on that day,” the suit reads. “It did so under a House Rule that allowed absent members to vote by proxy. But the Constitution defines absent members as excluded from ‘a Quorum to do Business’ and therefore unauthorized to vote to enact legislation—by ‘proxy’ or otherwise. Though President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, his signature was a nullity because the act never ‘passed the House of Representatives.’ The Court should declare that the Consolidated Appropriations Act has not been enacted and is not law.”
The suit seeks a ruling declaring that the Consolidated Appropriations Act was adopted in violation of the Constitution, and is therefore unlawful. It also seeks a permanent injunction against two Biden administration policies; first, an amendment to Title VII that expands the definition of pregnancy discrimination, and would empower the federal government to investigate and sue the state if it deems that it is not adhering to federal standards; second, the Department of Homeland Security’s “Alternatives to Detention Program,” which releases illegal aliens into the country who would otherwise be detained by ICE, and funds grants which connect illegal aliens with social services. Texas argues that the DHS program would put even more strain on the state’s finances.
An analysis by The Federalist concluded that the federal court is unlikely to overturn the entire omnibus bill, but it may very well enjoin the two policies.