House Passes Supplemental Appropriations for Immigration Crisis
Before leaving for the August recess on Friday, the House of Representatives passed a $694 million spending bill to address the issue of thousands of underage migrants crossing the southern border without parents or guardians. The bill would provide funds through the end of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The vote fell mostly along party lines, 223-189, with four Republicans opposing it and one Democrat supporting it. Additionally, the House passed another bill limiting the President’s ability to defer the deportation of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. It is unlikely that the Senate will pass either bill.
U.S. Court of Appeals: Obamacare Passage Constitutional
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently ruled that the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—was passed constitutionally. An Iowa man who would prefer to pay for medical care personally rather than purchase insurance or pay a tax in lieu thereof argued that the law was unconstitutional because the version passed was introduced in the Senate, not the House of Representatives. The Origination Clause of the Constitution requires all tax legislation to begin in the House of Representatives, which has traditionally been closer to the people. The Court ruled that Obamacare was not intended to tax; rather the goal was to increase the number of citizens covered by insurance. Thus, the Origination Clause did not apply.
Florida Court Rules Gerrymandering Unconstitutional
Florida Judge Terry Lewis has ruled that two congressional districts are in violation of the state’s constitution, which Floridians amended in 2010 to prohibit political gerrymandering. Judge Lewis has ruled that the state should have new congressional districts drawn up by the November midterm elections. The unconstitutional districts are the 5th, represented by Representative Corrine Brown, and the 10th, represented by Representative Daniel Webster. About a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution did not define any limits against political gerrymandering. It will hear two cases on gerrymandering in Alabama in the fall.
Why is Congress Out of Session Now?
Congress is out of session right now, and will be until the beginning of September. For much of its history, the U.S. Congress was a part-time legislature, with Members working only from January until May or June. As the 20th century wore on, Congress convened for longer periods of time. However, during the 1960s, younger Members of Congress began to push for a pre-determined break—hence, the August recess. Although the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 requires Congress to depart for the month of August, if need be, Congress can delay their departure or come back early. Additionally, although some interpret the recess as a summer vacation, many Members of Congress use the period as a time for working in their districts.
And for our latest post: Supreme Court on Recess Appointments: The President Loses, Congress Partially Wins