Federal Judge Rules $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill Passed Unconstitutionally

United States District Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas said the House of Representatives improperly passed a $1.7 trillion spending bill.

The passage lacked a quorum, the judge ruled.

At the time of the bill’s December 2022 passage, Democrats allowed proxy voting for the legislation, meaning that a quorum was not physically present.

Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) condemned the proxy votes, saying, “The American people deserve us to be here over Christmas, actually fighting for them, instead of trying to catch planes, while half this body are going to vote by proxy. Half this body’s not even going to be here and they’re lying. They’re lying on forms saying they’re voting by proxy for COVID, and it’s a lie. And half this body’s going to do it. You know it, and it’s destroying this country.”

“Based on the Quorum Clause’s text, original public meaning, and historical practice, the Court concludes that the Quorum Clause bars the creation of a quorum by including non-present members participating by proxy,” Hendrix wrote in his opinion. “Supreme Court precedent has long held that the Quorum Clause requires presence, and the Clause’s text distinguishes those absent members from the quorum and provides a mechanism for obtaining a physical quorum by compelling absent members to attend. This power to compel attendance makes little sense divorced from physical presence.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the victory in a press release, stating, “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.”

The state of Texas specifically sought to block two provisions in the unconstitutionally-passed bill.

One of the provisions requiring pregnant women in the workplace to receive “reasonable accommodations” was blocked. Another provision funding a program providing “case management and other services to noncitizens during immigration removal proceedings,” as Fox News reported, was not blocked.

Judge Hendrix noted the ruling had a “limited” scope.

“[N]either the enrolled bill doctrine nor the political question doctrine prohibit the Court from resolving the central challenge of this case—whether Congress’s novel proxy rule that counted members who were not physically present at the time of the vote toward the quorum violates the Quorum Clause,” the judge wrote. “The enrolled bill doctrine has limited applicability where constitutional provisions are at issue.”