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Enzi works to keep Congress in check

Senator co-sponsors bill to help Congress legislate within constitutional powers

July 7, 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is backing a bill designed to ensure that Congress legislates only within the bounds of its powers granted by the highest law in the land.
 
Enzi, along with 19 senators including Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., co-sponsored the Enumerated Powers Act (S. 1319), which would require that every bill introduced in Congress include a “constitutionality clause.”  A constitutionality clause is a statement describing the section of the Constitution that grants Congress the right to make that specific law.
 
“Congress must remember that it does not have all-encompassing, free-reigning governing powers.  Our founding fathers granted Congress limited powers within the Constitution, and we should not stray outside those powers,” Enzi said.
 
“Oftentimes in the Senate, legislation comes to the floor that clearly oversteps the bounds of the federal government.  So far this year the government has taken over banks, insurance companies and most recently the automobile industry. It has to stop. These bills should have never made it that far,” said Enzi.  “The Enumerated Powers Act will help to limit the over-legislating that Congress is currently so famous for by requiring that every bill contains a statement of constitutionality.”
 
The enumerated powers of Congress are outlined in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. If signed into law, this legislation would make any bill without a constitutionality clause subject to a point of order in either chamber of Congress.  A point of order can be raised by any senator or representative and is used to point out when a rule of the legislative body has been violated.  If the presiding officer agrees with the point of order, the bill cannot be considered until a constitutionality clause is added.
 
The Enumerated Powers Act was introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on June 22 and has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.  A companion measure has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz.