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Congressional Record [.PDF]
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, June 5, 2003
2003 Ron Paul 64:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, while may seem reasonable to establish a Joint Committee on the Continuity of Congress, I wish to bring to my colleagues attention my concerns relative to certain proposals regarding continuity of government, which would fundamentally alter the structure of our government in a way detrimental to republican liberty.
2003 Ron Paul 64:2
In particular, I hope this Committee does not endorse the proposal contained in Preserving our Institutions, The Continuity of Government Commission which recommends that state governors appoint new representatives. Appointing representatives flies in the face of the Founders intention that the House of Representatives be the part of the federal government most directly accountable to the people. Even with the direct election of Senators, the fact that members of the House are elected every two years while Senators run for statewide office every six years, means members of the House of Representatives are still more accountable to the people than any other part of the federal government.
2003 Ron Paul 64:3
Therefore, any action that abridges the peoples constitutional authority to elect members of the House of Representatives abridges the peoples ability to control their government. Supporters of this plan claim that the appointment power will be necessary in the event of an emergency and that the appointed representatives will only be temporary. However, Mr. Speaker, the laws passed by these temporary representatives will be permanent.
2003 Ron Paul 64:4
I would remind my colleagues that this country has faced the possibility of threats to the continuity of this body several times throughout our history, yet no one suggested removing the peoples right vote for members of Congress. For example, the British in the War of 1812 attacked the city of Washington, yet nobody suggested the states could not address the lack of a quorum in the House of Representatives though elections. During the Civil War, the neighboring state of Virginia, where today many Capitol Hill staffers and members reside, was actively involved in hostilities against the United States Government, yet Abraham Lincoln never suggested that non-elected persons serve in the House. Forty-two years ago, Americans wrestled with a hostile superpower that had placed nuclear weapons just 90 miles off the Florida coast, yet no one suggested we consider taking away the peoples right to elect their representatives in order to ensure continuity of government!
2003 Ron Paul 64:5
I have no doubt that the people of the states are quite competent to hold elections in a timely fashion. After all, isnt it in each states interest to ensure it has adequate elected representation in Washington as soon as possible? Mr. Speaker, there are those who say that the power of appointment is necessary in order to preserve checks and balances and thus prevent an abuse of executive power. Of course, I agree that it is very important to carefully guard our constitutional liberties in times of crisis, and that an over-centralization of power in the Executive Branch is one of the most serious dangers to that liberty. However, I would ask my colleagues who is more likely to guard the peoples liberties, representatives chosen by, and accountable to, the people, or representatives hand-picked by the executive of their state?
2003 Ron Paul 64:6
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I wish to question the rush under which this bill is being brought to the floor. Until this morning, most members had no idea this bill would be considered today! The rules committee began its mark-up of the bill at 9:15 last night and by 9:31 the report was filed and the bill placed on the House Calendar. Then, after Congress had finished legislative business for the day and with only a handful of members on the floor, unanimous consent was obtained to consider this bill today.
2003 Ron Paul 64:7
It is always disturbing when bills dealing with important subjects are rushed through the House before members have adequate time to consider all the implications of the measure. I hope this does not set a precedent for shutting members of Congress out of the debate on this important issue.
2003 Ron Paul 64:8
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, while there is no harm in considering ideas for continuity of Congress, I hope my colleagues will reject any proposal that takes away the peoples right to elect their representatives in this chamber.