“One Subject at a Time Act” (PDF/print version)




112TH CONGRESS
1st SESSION

H.R. ________

ONE SUBJECT AT A TIME ACT



CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT


          Pursuant to clause 7 of Rule XII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the following statement is submitted regarding the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the accompanying bill or joint resolution.

          This bill is enacted pursuant to the power conferred by the United States Constitution upon each house of Congress by:

          (a) Article I, Section 5, Clause 2, to determine the rules governing the proceedings of each house of Congress, respectively;

          (b) Article I, Section 7, Clause 2, to ensure that bills that become law have been actually passed by, not just passed through, each house of Congress; and

          (c) Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, which authorizes Congress to make all laws that are necessary and proper for carrying into execution the rules of each house.

          The provision of this Act under which any person who is aggrieved by the enforcement of any law enacted either in violation of the rules of proceedings of either house of Congress, or by the suspension of such rules, as prescribed herein, shall have standing in a court of law, is pursuant to Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.




112TH CONGRESS
1st SESSION


H.R. ________


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

M_.__________ introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on ___________

A BILL

To prohibit the abuse of legislative power: by requiring that each bill or amendment hereinafter introduced (other than concurrent resolutions or appropriations bills within the jurisdictional authority of each subcommittee of each Appropriations Committee) be limited to only one subject, so as to end the practice of addressing more than one subject in a single bill; by requiring that each bill's single subject be descriptively expressed in the title thereto; by requiring each appropriation bill, including any supplemental appropriation bill, by amendment or otherwise, not to contain any general legislation or change of existing law not germane to the subject matter of said bill; and by declaring that any bill enacted in violation of this Act shall not be enforceable except as specifically provided herein.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 2 States Congress assembled,




CONTENTS

Sec. 1. Short Title
Sec. 2. Constitutional Authority Statement
Sec. 3. Findings
Sec. 4. One Subject at a Time
Sec. 5. Enforcement
Sec. 6. Severability




SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act may be cited as the “One Subject at a Time Act.”

SEC. 2. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT.

(a) This bill is enacted pursuant to the powers conferred by the United States Constitution upon each house of Congress by:
      (i) Article I, Section 5, Clause 2, to determine the rules
governing the proceedings of each house, respectively;
      (ii) Article I, Section 7, Clause 2, to ensure that bills that become law have actually been passed, not just passed through, each house of Congress; and
      (iii) Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, which authorizes Congress to make all laws that are necessary and proper for carrying into execution the rules of each house.
(b) The provision of this Act under which any person who is aggrieved by the enforcement of any law enacted in violation of the rules of proceedings of either house of Congress, or by the suspension of such rules, as prescribed herein, shall have standing in a court of law, is pursuant to Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

SEC. 3. FINDINGS

      (a) Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution provides that “[e]very Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it becomes Law, be presented to the President of the United States” for the President's approval or veto.

      (b) At the time of the introduction of a bill in Congress, it has become the common practice of the sponsor(s) of a bill to attach at the beginning section of such bill a title to serve (i) as a ready reference to such bill and (ii) as a means of marshaling support for such bill both among his colleagues in Congress and his fellow citizens in the general public.

      (c) Rule XVI, Clause 7 of the Rules of the House of Representatives (i) provides that “[n]o motion or proposition on a subject different from that under consideration shall be admitted under color of amendment,” and in particular, (ii) requires that “[a]n amendment must relate to the subject matter under consideration,” and the “fundamental purpose of an amendment must be germane to the fundamental purpose of the bill.”

      (d) Notwithstanding House Rule XVI, Clause 7, it has become commonplace for a Bill to address more than one unrelated Subject and to address Subjects not reflected in the Title of the Bill, including, but not limited to, amendments or riders not germane to the subject matter of an appropriations bill — such as the Lautenberg Amendment to federal firearms law inserted as an amendment to the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, or to the subject matter of a supplemental appropriations such as the REAL I.D. Act attached as a rider to the “Emergency, Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Tsunami Relief” (May, 2005), or the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006” which appears as Title VIII of the “Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006” known as the “SAFE Port Act of 2006,” or the provision increasing the minimum wage inserted as an amendment to the “Iraq Supplemental Appropriations bill of 2007” — thereby confusing and obfuscating the democratic representative principle requiring a majority vote in both houses of Congress for a bill to become law.

      (e) It has further become increasingly commonplace for a bill to bear a title designed to propagandize the people and intimidate members of Congress, rather than to describe the Bill's subject matter content, including but not limited to such Titles as “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” and the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,” popularly known as the “USA PATRIOT” Act, or more simply the “PATRIOT” Act.

      (f) The practice of combining into one bill more than one Subject “diverse in their nature and having no necessary connection,” thereby “to secure the passage of several measures, no one of which could succeed on its own merits,” both corrupts Congress and endangers the American constitutional republic. See Thomas Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations Which Rest upon the Legislative Power of the United States of the American Union, Chapter VI, p. 143 (Little, Brown: 5th ed. 1883).

      (g) The practice of crafting a title to a bill that provides little or no intimation of the subject matter content or the fundamental purpose of the bill, catches members of Congress unawares and misleads the American people.

      (h) To prevent the misuse of legislative power whereby members of Congress are enticed to vote for bills that include provisions of law addressing unrelated subjects that they oppose, it is necessary for each bill, including an operating budget bill, omnibus appropriations bill, or supplemental appropriations bill, to be limited to one subject, so that (i) legislative majorities may not be artificially created by combining unrelated subjects in one bill and (ii) the President is afforded a reasonable opportunity to exercise his constitutionally-conferred veto power against the enactment of rash, immature and improper laws.

      (i) To prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature and the American people, and to fairly apprise the people in such a way as to afford them an opportunity to be heard by petition or otherwise, it is necessary that (i) the subject of each bill be specified in the Title to such bill, and (ii) the effect of an amendment to existing law, if any, be set forth in full in such bill. (j) To make effective the rules set forth herein, it is necessary that they be mandatory and prohibitory, not directory only, subject to judicial review for legislative compliance herewith.

SEC. 4. ONE SUBJECT AT A TIME

Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the United States Code is amended to include a new section 104a, as follows:

      “Section 104a — ONE SUBJECT AT A TIME.

     “(a) Each Bill or Joint Resolution shall embrace no more than one subject.

      “(b) The subject of a Bill or Joint Resolution shall be clearly and descriptively expressed in the Title.

      “(c) An Appropriations Bill shall not contain any general legislation or change of existing law provision, the subject of which is not germane to the subject matter of each such Appropriations Bill provided however, that this section shall not be construed to prohibit any provision imposing limitations upon the expenditure of funds so appropriated.

      “(d) Concurrent Resolutions, including those under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which are not presented to the President for signature and which do not have the force of law, are exempt from this provision.”

SEC. 5. ENFORCEMENT

Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the United States Code is amended to include a new section 104b, as follows:

      “Section 104b — ENFORCEMENT

     “(a) If the Title of an Act or Joint Resolution addresses two or more unrelated subjects, then the entire Act or Joint Resolution is void.

      “(b) If the Title of an Act or Joint Resolution addresses a single subject, but the Act contains one or more provisions concerning a subject that is not clearly and descriptively expressed in its Title, then only such provision or provisions concerning the subject not clearly and descriptively expressed in the Title shall be void.

     “(c) If an Act appropriating funds contains a provision outside of the jurisdiction of the relevant subcommittee of the House and Senate Appropriations committee, and therefore outside the subject of the bill, then such provision shall be void.

     “(d) If an Act appropriating funds contains general legislation or change of existing law provision not germane to the subject matter of such bill, then each and every such provision shall be void.

     “(e) Any person aggrieved by the enforcement of, or attempt or threat of enforcement of, an Act passed without having complied with Sections 104a and 104b of this Title, or any member of Congress aggrieved by the failure of the house of which he is a member to comply with the requirements of said Sections, shall, regardless of the amount in controversy, have a cause of action under Sections 2201 and 2202, Title 28, United States Code and Rules 57 and 65, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, against the United States to seek appropriate relief, including an injunction against the enforcement of any law, the passage of which did not conform to Sections 104a and 104b of this Title. 9 1

      “(f) In any judicial action brought pursuant to subsection (e) of 2 this section, the standard of review shall be de novo.”

SEC. 6. SEVERABILITY CLAUSE

     If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid for any reason in any court of competent jurisdiction, that invalidity does not effect other provisions or any other application of this Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, which for this purpose the provisions of this Act are declared severable.

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