Enumerated Powers Act

Washington, May 19, 2005 – The Enumerated Powers Act, H.R. 2458, requires that all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress include a statement setting forth the specific constitutional authority under which the law is being enacted. This measure will force a continual re-examination of the role of the national government, and will fundamentally alter the ever expanding reach of the federal government.
For too long, the federal government has operated without constitutional restraint. In doing so, it has created ineffective and costly programs, massive deficits year after year, and a national debt totaling nearly $7 trillion. The Enumerated Powers Act will help slow the flood of unconstitutional legislation and force Congress to reexamine the proper role of the federal government. For these reasons, every Congress since the 104th Congress I have introduced the Enumerated Powers Act (H.R. 2270 – 104th, H.R. 292 – 105th, H.R. 1018 – 106th, H.R. 175 — 107th, H.R. 384 — 108th). At the beginning of the 105th Congress, the House of Representatives took an important first step by incorporating the substantive requirement of the Enumerated Powers Act into the House rules.
Today, the House must cite the constitutional authority for each bill in report language accompanying the legislation. However, the full effect of the Enumerated Powers Act will not be realized until it is incorporated into actual law.
Our Founding Fathers believed that granting only specific legislative power to the national government would be a powerful mechanism for protecting our freedoms, while allowing us to achieve the objectives best accomplished through a national government. Congress should honor and abide by the principles embodied in the Constitution – no more, no less. Respecting the Tenth Amendment, which reserves all powers not granted to the national government to the states, or the people, will ensure that the Constitution continues to truly guide our nation.
http://johnshadegg.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=13333

Andrew M. Grossman is Senior Legal Policy Ana­lyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
He says the following:

As every schoolchild learns in civics class, the national government is one of limited powers, and any legislation that would exceed those powers is unconstitutional. Rather than attempt to place lim­its on a grant of absolute power—an endeavor that the Framers recognized as doomed to failure—the original constitutional text goes to the trouble of conveying specific and narrow grants of authority to the federal government. Every act of Congress must fall within some enumerated power or else it is illegitimate, an usurpation of the power retained by the people and their states and a threat to indi­vidual liberty.

Congress has lost sight of this democratic imper­ative. Though all Members of Congress pledge to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same,”[28] rarely if ever do sponsors of legislation, or those voting for it, take the time identify the authority to enact it.

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