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In win for Paxton, court declares $1.7 trillion federal omnibus was passed unconstitutionally

"Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution. This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the Court upheld the Constitution," Paxton said.

Published: February 27, 2024 8:12pm

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday secured a major victory in his challenge to the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package passed in 2022, with a court declaring that the bill was approved unconstitutionally.

President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 in December of the prior year. The measure effectively set the federal budget for the year by wrapping the 12 annual appropriations bills into a single piece of legislation. Paxton, however, had argued that the House's passage of the measure was unconstitutional as less than half of the lower chamber's members were physically present to vote on it. Many lawmakers who were not present voted by proxy. Paxton had specifically challenged stipulations in the bill that affect his state.

"Like many constitutional challenges, Texas asserts that this provision is unenforceable against it because Congress violated the Constitution in passing the law. In response, the defendants claim, among other things, that this Court has no power to address the issue because it cannot look to extrinsic evidence to question whether a bill became law," the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division wrote. "But because the Court is interpreting and enforcing the Constitution—rather than second-guessing a vote count—the Court disagrees. The Court concludes that, by including members who were indisputably absent in the quorum count, the Act at issue passed in violation of the Constitution's Quorum Clause."

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states:

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Paxton, for his part, celebrated the decision, saying that "Congress acted egregiously by passing the largest spending bill in U.S. history with fewer than half the members of the House bothering to do their jobs, show up, and vote in person."

"Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution. This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the Court upheld the Constitution," he concluded.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation served as co-counsel in the case.

"The Court correctly concluded that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 violated the Quorum Clause of the U.S. Constitution because a majority of House members was not physically present when the $1.7 trillion spending bill was passed. Proxy voting is unconstitutional," TPPF senior attorney Matt Miller said.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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