This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives did something that you wouldn't think is even possible: they introduced (and then the House passed) a five-page bill that, despite its brevity, may violate two separate provisions of the United States Constitution.
The bill increases the debt limit by some unspecified amount, but only for those expenditures "necessary to fund a commitment by the Federal Government that required payment before May 19, 2013." What does "necessary" mean here? I don't know, and the bill doesn't say. What about "commitment" and "required" -- what do they mean? Don't know; doesn't say. Given sovereign immunity, I'm not sure that any payments by the federal government are ever "required" per se. What if the Government said, "are you going to make me?"
Up until now, the federal debt limit has been a number. Now it's a concept, and an undefined one at that. I find it hard to square that vagueness with Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that: "The validity of the public debt ... shall not be questioned.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment