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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 12/31/2010

Read the Constitution? The new rules Congress really needs to adopt.

By Stephen Stromberg

According to a pointless new rule, every bill in the House of Representatives next year will include a section citing the portion of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to enact it. The Senate is also considering some pretty cosmetic rules changes. So while they're at it, Congress might consider these:

-Before any lawmaker introduces a bill, he or she must ask celebrity medium John Edward to consult with the spirits of the Founding Fathers to make sure it's cool with them. Well, not urban elitist Alexander Hamilton, of course. Or, really, any of the Federalists. Or Thomas Jefferson, after he became president and sold out strict constructionism. You know what -- just go ask Justice Scalia.

-To ease the sting of disrespect President Obama felt in his last Jon Stewart interview, lawmakers may now address each other as "dude" on the House and Senate floors:

Members may also refer to the presiding officer as "that dude in the chair."

-If a senator wants to put a "hold" on a presidential nominee, he or she must literally put that person in a hold -- the single-arm choke, the sleeper hold, the Tonga death grip, the rear naked choke, any hold will do.

-Every bill must also cite the sura of the Koran that it doesn't support.

-Instead of a daily benediction, Congress shall hire Jack Handy to recite a daily Deep Thought, sharing wisdom that a GOP House might appreciate, such as: "I believe in keeping the world safe for our children, but not for our children's children, because I don't believe children should be having sex."

-To reverse years of Hollywood propaganda, each new Congress must reaffirm that there are, in fact, cats in America:

-Any time a member of Congress cites an angry constituent who called his or her office, he or she must immediately add, "Of course, the sorts of personalities who take the time to leave me unhinged phone messages are usually unrepresentative of most voters. But I agree with this guy."

-Jon Boehner may cry on the House floor, except, of course, if Tom Hanks is around:

-Just to switch things up and further perplex Europeans observing our political system, let's have the Democrats and the Republicans switch sides -- Democrats on the right, Republicans on the left, Bernie Sanders off in the wings somewhere, and Joe Lieberman wherever he feels like it at that particular moment.

Or they could just rein in the filibuster.

Have any other ideas? Leave them in the comments.

By Stephen Stromberg  | December 31, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A happy, rational new year
Next: What the Olympics would be like without pro hockey


What are you Stromberg, the B team that takes over when the regular hacks are on holiday? Your blog is pitiful. Is this what passes for journalism on WaPo these days?

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 31, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

thats funny -when bush was prez and had a gop senate for 6 years their was no talk of dems to stop the fillabuster.they said it was needed in senate to make sure that it took 60 vote majority to pass something. the super will of the people .if gop takes control of senate in 2012 tlets see if you and dems are still in favor of getting rid of it. more wwe .styling and profiling but no real negotating from either side.

Posted by: dagner49 | December 31, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Public financing for House and Senate.

Term limits.

Execution for any Congressbum/Bumette that goes back on a campaign promise.

Posted by: rcubedkc | December 31, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how liberals are all in agreement about how bad it is to read the constitution and cite the clauses that justify their actions.

2012 will be sweet

Posted by: thelaw1 | December 31, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

This is a somewhat cynical editorial. What do you recommend they do differently? Of course the criticisms are cynical too. One critic assumes you are a liberal. This didn't exactly sound "liberal" to me. I think the one who dismisses you as "B" team has it right, but that is true about the regulars lately as well as you.

To have an A team requires exemplary behavior and logical principled thinking. But in our weird times it is hard to find integrity so its not surprising that it is hard to find writers who write with integrity.

Requiring legislators to justify laws is actually a good idea and not all that novel. Judges have to cite chapter and verse when they judge cases. Legislators should be required to justify their laws equally much. If the justifications are in the law, then when judges overturn the laws they have to at least explain why they don't buy them.

The outgoing Senator from Pennsylvania probably had better suggestions than these. He suggested requiring transparency when Senators put holds, and reducing the power of the Party leadership to prevent amendment offerings on the floor. I'm not sure those are the best either; He also wants to eliminate filibusters for nominees, but at least they are ideas with some justification behind them. They aren't just cynical and flat attempts at humor.

There is no cure for pandering nor for human nature; except for constituents who insist on integrity and can see through the demagoguery.

We have both the best Congress money can buy, and the Congress we elected because we let money buy it.

When we blame congress we have at least four fingers pointing back at ourselves as we elect these people. There isn't much we can do about the giant corporations except perhaps buy organic foods or boycott them. But we can do something when Congress falls short.

Personally I find many members of congress to be okay fellows, and some even exemplary. If we have bad politics it is because we won't face our problems and insist on punishing the victims for the crimes of the victimizers, because the victimizers are powerful and well connected.

Posted by: chris_holte | December 31, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

This column is as funny as ketchup on celery. Mr. Stromberg is trying way too hard.

Posted by: slatt321 | December 31, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I think that Constitution reference thing has possibilities, but not universal applicability.

Financial Reform Legislation should reference a specific verse from the Kama Sutra, for example.

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 31, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

"According to a pointless new rule, every bill in the House of Representatives next year will include a section citing the portion of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to enact it."

Good idea. If they had done that in the Senate, them McCain-Feingold would have never seen the light of day.

Posted by: ahashburn | January 1, 2011 6:16 AM | Report abuse

I think it's a great column. Quite the year-end wrap up! Thanks!

Posted by: Imawake | January 1, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"ketchup on celery" Now that is funny. Stevie is not. screwjob is right on, the B team of the WaPoo is at bat today.

Posted by: LHO39 | January 1, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I got a kick out of the American Tail reference.

But I especially get a kick out of the people who think that citing Constitutional authority in every bill will improve anything.

Now every bill will have the words "Establishment, Supremacy, Commerce" on top, and Congressional policy debates will devolve into talking-past-each-other arguments interpreting Constitutional meaning.

I thought the Constitution delegated that task to the courts...

Posted by: nicholasgrossman | January 1, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Since the Tea Party thinks government is not needed, I would suggest they not show up when Congress convenes.

Posted by: samsara15 | January 1, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Give all of them a new puppy.

Posted by: drowningpuppies | January 1, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Typical waste of space. Please go back to your real talent of writing obituaries.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | January 1, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I thought our Constitution stipulated that it was the Judicial Branch of government that decided the Constitutionality of laws. Perhaps self-righteous Tea Partiers and their supporters do need considerable practice with the Constitution. Unfortunately, their demonstrated ability to see, hear and read only what they want to see, hear and read makes the practice a bit of a farce. On the other hand, perhaps their going through the acts of 'respecting' the Constitution will make it more difficult for them to propose changes to it.

Posted by: mich123 | January 1, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Live, streaming audio and video surveillance of all public officials 24/7/365. No exceptions, no lobbyists in Groucho glasses.

Posted by: elgropo1 | January 1, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Liberals oppose the inclusion of cited constitutional authority, because all of the items on their agenda are specifically designed to nullify it's authority.
They are enemies of this republic, and of the constitution.

Posted by: MrMeaner | January 1, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The mocking this rule is getting is well deserved. This is just the sort of meaningless activity that the right loves engaging in as a substitute for actually having to govern.

Eventually, the public will catch on and these yokels will sent packing. But, in the meantime, they can sure bolix things up even more than they have been with just this silly sort of posturing designed to make the GOP base of Tea Party squalling brats happy without actually getting any serious governing done.

Posted by: jaxas70 | January 1, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

MrMeaner, the real enemy of the American people are the legion of dumbed down sociopaths like you who simply are not comfortable with any sort of progress. Hence, you like to dress up in those ridiculous 18th century costumes and pretend you are revolutionaries when the simple fact of the matter is you are nothing but a bunch of lazy anarchists who have more in common with Ted Kozinski than with the early American revolutionaries.

Posted by: jaxas70 | January 1, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"Hmm, I thought our Constitution stipulated that it was the Judicial Branch of government that decided the Constitutionality of laws."

from mich123

The Constitution does NOT provide that authority to the Supreme Court. John Marshall, Chief Justice, claimed for the Court the right of judicial review in Marbury v Madison in 1803.

Posted by: gary40 | January 1, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I love some of these comments. Can none of you take a joke or is it improper to have a good laugh every once in a while?

Posted by: Falling4Ever | January 1, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Liberals will merely cite Section 8 "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;..." Thus, unlimited power to provide welfare. The rest of the Constitution is meaningless drivel.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | January 1, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Until pRECIDENT oBAMA, Presidents could only suggest, veto or endorse legislation.
THE dEMOCRATIC PARTY controlled most of the congress of the PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH
8 YEARS. Democratic congress has had the control of congress for the majority of the last 70 years. A very corrupt and ANTI-USA Congress.

Posted by: MNGilbt | January 1, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 12/31/2010
Read the Constitution? The new rules Congress really needs to adopt.
By Stephen Stromberg

A pointless post by a pin-head in search of a pin to inhabit, Stephen Stromberg, could not leave it alone could he? Nooooooooh!

While you are at it Bomberg, read this: "...In 1909 progressives in Congress...attached a provision for an income tax to a tariff bill. Conservatives, hoping to kill the idea for good, proposed a constitutional amendment enacting such a tax (ARE WE ABOUT TO BE TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS FOR ANOTHER 101+ YEARS OR ARE REPUBLICANS GOING TO STAND UP THIS TIME AND SAY NOT SO FAST?); they believed an amendment would never receive ratification by three-fourths of the states..." ((Information excerpted from Milestone Documents in the National Archives [Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995] pp. 69–73.)

This is OUR defense and OUR protection:

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

{The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.} Compulsion to sign W4 (waiver of 4th and 5th) is an overt violation of Rights.

Section 9 - Limits on Congress

{No capitation, or other direct Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.} Stricken from the Constitution by action of a false ratification process, 1913.

{No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of ALL public Money shall be published from time to time.} Expansion and\or contraction of the Money Supply by a foreign corporation is an overt violation of US sovreignty and implicit failure to comply with this paragraph, since no true accounting can possibly be given, when the 'public Money' is under such control.

The second simple fact is the following:

“ The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. ”

Courts are divided as to whether this Income Tax is an excise (Poll-Tax) or a Confiscation of Property, either way the continuing ambiguity makes every representative sworn to office in violation of one or the other requirement of the Constitution to uphold and defend that docuement, and by implication, each and every individual legal inhabitant of the United States of a Glorious Free America, Stephen.

Read and learn before you come back with another shovel ready, shovel full of Crat-Scrim.

Happy Snews Year

Posted by: FreeNomore | January 1, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The new rule does nothing but placate the Tea Klan who are too ignorant to realize that it is just a bunch of nothing. How about requiring a paragraph on how they will pay for it?

Posted by: rcc_2000 | January 1, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

For all of you "constitutionalists" that think congress passes laws that are unconstitutional; first of all that's what the judicial branch is for, second of all the constitution is a broad framework, there's not a lot of specificity in the document. The right to bear arms, not the type of arms, the right to tax, but not a lot of specifics about the tax code, etc. Congress will be able to cite a constitutional foundation for any law they pass - this isn't going to change a thing! Now go take on the day!

Posted by: DontGetIt | January 2, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

freenomore, I'm pretty certain that the courts have come down on the side that they are not in conflict and that an income tax (or signing a W4) does not constitute an illegal search and seizure.

MNGilbrt: The Republican party controlled congress for 6 of the 8 years of GWB's presidency. They also controlled one or both houses during much of the Clinton and parts of the Reagan presidency.

chris_holt: What is it you are trying to say? That judges cite chapter and verse when they overturn a law and that if the constitutional reasoning of congress were part of the law judges would have to cite chapter and verse why they are overturning it, which they do anyways?

The real danger of this rule is that by citing the constitutionality of the law, no matter how tortured, it attempts to usurp the powers of the court prior to determination. In other words, it attempts to define and limit constitutional questions to those reported in the law and not the broader constitution.

The constitution clearly grants congress the power to make law as congress sees fit without a determination of constitutionality. It is the duty of the courts to determine if such laws are in fact in concurrence with the constitution.

Posted by: elkiii_2008 | January 2, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Controversial to propose reading the governing documents and by inference the laws being proposed which are to be governed by them, prior to passage. I would find it more controversial to propose to pass laws without reading them, or to buy congressional passage with pork attached, with all the implicit corruptions of such a process.

Posted by: almorganiv | January 3, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

1. Keep sneering at the Constitution. It will get you invited to the right parties in Washington.
2. Keep mocking people who take America's Founding seriously. You'll be the toast of mainstream journalism and on the White House invite list.
3. Question the intelligence of those who don't go along with Washington groupthink.
4. Look for work because your readership continues to disappear to the point where the Post becomes a bulletin board for bureaucrats and political hacks.

Posted by: ringo3 | January 3, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

If the Constitution is such a "Broad Framework" to be interpreted based on the times, why did the founders even bother to include an amendment process? I mean, if it says whatever we SAY it says, why bother with the sham of including a change mechanism.

Posted by: Nukeman | January 3, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I find it humorous that people on the right, who have no sense of humor, are telling the rest of us what is funny and what isn't!

Posted by: mgdbach | January 3, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The new congress must outlaw humor. These liberal humorist types just cause confusion among the believers.

What we need are more threats, more elimination of safety nets. The right promised death panels and they can deliver.

Posted by: searenbur | January 3, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Stromberg column is great fun. Reminds me of the last lines of the Robert Burns poem, "To a Louse, on Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet in Church":

Would some Power . . . , indeed. Lighten up, folks.

Posted by: castleb | January 3, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Stromberg column is great fun. Reminds me of the last lines of the Robert Burns poem, "To a Louse, on Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet in Church":

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Would some Power . . . , indeed. Lighten up, folks.

Posted by: castleb | January 3, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Is this the same crowd who revere the Constitution so much that they want to change it?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 3, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

don't try comedy again-
if not for the cultural references-
i would not think you are from here-

Posted by: feanor1 | January 3, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Waiting for Republicans to point out the Constitutional basis for faux filibustering. Make them actually stand up and do it from now on, and require that filibustering address the question at hand. For instance, make them explain on the record why reducing the number of nukes loose in outlaw-controlled parts of Euarasia is not a good idea. Stuff like that.

Posted by: aprilglaspie | January 3, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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