A Modest Proposal for Ending Gridlock in Washington

Posted on Categories Constitutional Interpretation, Federal Law & Legal System, Political Processes & Rhetoric

I have a proposal to vastly improve politics in Washington, and it should have bipartisan appeal—or, at least, it should appeal to one party this year and to the other party 2 or 4 years from now. Given the new practical reality that it takes 60 votes to get anything done in Washington, and that there are never 60 votes for anything useful, it seems like a perfect time to consider a new amendment to the Constitution. It would need to be proposed by a convention called for by 2/3 of the states, as the other method probably wouldn’t work:

RESOLUTION

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
relating to the legislative power.

Resolved by this Constitutional Convention assembled (a majority of the delegates concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

Article —

Section 1. All legislative powers granted by this Constitution shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist solely of a House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment and the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for the purpose of trial, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Section 3. The House of Representatives may, during the session of Congress, determine both the length of its adjournments and the place to which it shall adjourn.

Section 4. Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to the House of Representatives, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of the House of Representatives shall agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of the House of Representatives shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on their journal.

Every order, resolution, or vote that passes the House of Representatives (except for the rules of its proceedings, advice and consent on treaties or appointments, or questions of impeachment, membership, or adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Section 5. The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Representatives present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

Section 6. No state shall be entitled to suffrage in a Senate.

Section 7. The Congress, whenever two thirds of the House of Representatives shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

Section 8. The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the Speaker of the House;—The Speaker of the House shall, in the presence of the House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the twentieth day of January next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the House of Representatives shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Representatives, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Section 9. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President or a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 10. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of the House of Representatives.

Section 11. Whenever the President transmits to the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to him a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 12. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

[For more, see here and here.] [Update: And a related post by Jason Mazzone on what it takes to change a state’s representation in the Senate, here.]

RESOLUTION

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
relating to the legislative power.

Resolved by this Constitutional Convention assembled (two thirds of the delegates concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

Article —

Section 1. All legislative powers granted by this Constitution shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment and the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Section 3. The House of Representatives may, during the session of Congress, determine both the length of its adjournments and the place to which it shall adjourn.

Section 4. Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to the House of Representatives, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of the House of Representatives shall agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of the House of Representatives shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on their journal.

Every order, resolution, or vote that passes the House of Representatives (except for the rules of its proceedings, advice and consent on treaties or appointments, or questions of impeachment, membership, or adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Section 5. The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Representatives present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the House of Representatives, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

Section 6. No state shall be entitled to suffrage in a Senate.

Section 7. The Congress, whenever two thirds of the House of Representatives shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

Section 8. The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the Speaker of the House;—The Speaker of the House shall, in the presence of the House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the twentieth day of January next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the House of Representatives shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Representatives, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Section 9. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President or a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 10. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of the House of Representatives.

Section 11. Whenever the President transmits to the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to him a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 12. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Join the Conversation

We reserve the right not to publish comments based on such concerns as redundancy, incivility, untimeliness, poor writing, etc. All comments must include the first and last name of the author in the NAME field and a valid e-mail address.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.