Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Federal judge in Texas rules congressional passage of 2022 spending bill unconstitutional

By 37ci3 Feb28,2024

A federal judge in Texas ruled Tuesday that a pandemic-era rule that allows House lawmakers to vote by proxy rather than in person is unconstitutional in passing a $1.7 trillion government funding bill through 2022.

That’s what U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix in Lubbock found when he granted Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to block a provision of a bill that would have given pregnant workers stronger legal protections.

The judge called the scope of his order “limited” and said it did not block the entire costs statute. Texas ultimately tried to block only two provisions.

Hendrix, an appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump, blocked the use of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act against the state as an employer after finding that the funding bill was mishandled.

That law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. Hendrix’s order applies only to state government employees, not other workers in Texas.

Paxton, a claim He defended the spending package unveiled last year It entered into force in December 2022 It was deemed unconstitutional because more than half of the House of Representatives, then led by Democrats, was not physically present to ensure a quorum and voted by proxy.

Later Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped implement the proxy voting rule in May 2020 after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as an emergency measure. It was previously repealed when Republicans took control of the House after the 2022 elections unsuccessful court challenge.

One 120 page decisionHendrix said that for more than two centuries before the adoption of the “new” proxy voting rule, Congress understood that the Constitution’s quorum clause required the physical presence of a majority of the members of the House or Senate to constitute a quorum to enact legislation.

“Supreme Court precedent has long held that the Quorum Clause requires attendance, and the text of the Clause distinguishes absent members from a quorum and provides a mechanism for obtaining a physical quorum by compelling absent members to attend,” he wrote.

The US Department of Justice, which is defending the bill on behalf of Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, did not immediately comment.

Matthew Miller, an attorney with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, which represents the state, said the ruling “correctly closes” that a physical quorum is required.

Although Hendrix ruled in favor of Texas, he found the state lacked authority to challenge $20 million in the bill to fund a pilot program that provides volunteer case management and other services to noncitizens in the immigration removal process.

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By 37ci3

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