Questionable Constitutional Authority Statement
of the Week
- Bill: H.R. 4254, the Medicare Advantage Program Integrity Act of 2012
- Introduced by: Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA)
- Constitutional Authority Statement: “Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following: Article 1 Section 7.”
Why this is an inadequate explanation: This statement provides no specific clause, and most importantly no explanation, as to why the bill is constitutional. What is more, the section of the Constitution cited merely provides the rules for the passage of legislation. The only seemingly relevant statement of authority for a particular piece of legislation would be “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” However even this phrase clearly does not grant authority to any particular piece of legislation; to say that any revenue bill must originate in the House is not to say that all revenue bills proposed in the House are constitutional. The phrase merely implies that the only revenue bills which shall be legitimate shall also be originated in the House.
How to fix this statement: A better Constitutional Authority Statement would need to explain from where in the Constitution the Congress derives the authority to pass this particular legislation. The lack of a specific clause and the lack of any explanation of constitutional authority beyond a single phrase both combine to make this an inadequate statement. This could be fixed by providing several sentences of explanation about why the bill in question is constitutional and by including a specific clause of the Constitution that is directly related to the bill.
To see previous “Questionable Constitutional Authority Statements,” as well as advice for drafting your office’s Constitutional Authority Statements, go here.
RSC Staff Contacts for these weekly emails: Rick.Eberstadt@mail.house.gov and Paul.Teller@mail.house.gov.