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2005 Ron Paul Chapter 26

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Congressional Record [.PDF]

Continuity In Representation Act
3 March 2005

2005 Ron Paul 26:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to support H.R. 841, the Continuity in Representation Act, introduced by my distinguished colleague, House Judiciary Committee Chairman JAMES SENSENBRENNER. H.R. 841 provides a practical and constitutional way to ensure that the House of Representatives can continue to operate in the event that more than 100 Members are killed, H.R. 841 thus protects the people’s right to choose their Representatives at the time when such a right may be most important, while ensuring continuity of the legislative branch.

2005 Ron Paul 26:2
Article I section 2 of the United States Constitution grants State governors the authority to hold special elections to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives. Article I, section 4 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to designate the time, place and manner of such special elections if States should fail to act expeditiously following a national emergency. Alexander Hamilton, who played a major role in the drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution, characterized authority over Federal elections as shared between the States and Congress, with neither being able to control the process entirety. H.R. 841 exercises Congress’s power to regulate the time, place and manner of elections by requiring the holding of special elections within 45 days after the Speaker or Acting Speaker declares 100 Members of the House have been killed.

2005 Ron Paul 26:3
I have no doubt that the people of the States are quite competent to hold elections in a timely fashion. After all, it is in each State’s interest to ensure it has adequate elected representation in Washington. The version of H.R. 841 before Congress today was drafted with input from State elections commissioners to make sure it sets realistic goals and will not unduly burden State governments. I am disappointed that some of my colleagues reject the sensible approach of H.R. 841 and instead support amending the Constitution to allow appointed Members to serve in this body. Allowing appointed Members to serve in “the people’s house” will fundamentally alter the nature of this institution and sever the people’s most direct connection with their government.

2005 Ron Paul 26:4
Even with the direct election of Senators, the fact that Members of the House are elected every 2 years while Senators run for statewide office every 6 years means that Members of the House of Representatives are still more accountable to the people than members of any other part of the Federal Government. Appointed Members of Congress simply cannot be truly representative. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton eloquently made this point in Federalist 52:

2005 Ron Paul 26:5
As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people. Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectively secured.

2005 Ron Paul 26:6
Mr. Chairman, 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 during a time of crisis. 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, Mr. Chairman, during a time of crisis it is all the more important to have Representatives accountable to the people. Otherwise, the citizenry has no check on the inevitable tendency of government to infringe on the people’s liberties at such a time. I would remind my colleagues that the only reason we are considering reexamining provisions of the PATRIOT Act is because of public concerns that this act gives up excessive liberty for a phantom security. Appointed officials would not be as responsive to public concerns.

2005 Ron Paul 26:7
Supporters of amending the Constitution claim that the appointment power will be necessary in the event of an emergency and that the appointed Representatives will only be temporary. However, the laws passed by these “temporary” Representatives will be permanent.

2005 Ron Paul 26:8
Mr. Chairman, this country has faced the possibility of threats to the continuity of this body several times in our history. Yet no one suggested removing the people’s right to 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 through elections. During the Civil War, the neighboring State of Virginia, where today many Capitol Hill staffers reside and many Members stay while Congress is in session, was actively involved in hostilities against the United States Government. Yet, Abraham Lincoln never suggested that non-elected persons serve in the House. Adopting any of the proposals to deny the people the ability to choose their own Representatives would let the terrorists know that they can succeed in altering our republican institutions. I hope all my colleagues who are considering rejecting H.R. 841 in favor of a constitutional amendment will question the wisdom of handing terrorists a preemptive victory over republican government.

2005 Ron Paul 26:9
As noted above, the Framers gave Congress all the tools it needs to address problems of mass vacancies in the House without compromising this institution’s primary function as a representative body. In fact, as Hamilton explains in Federalist 59, the “time, place, and manner” clause was specifically designed to address the kind of extraordinary circumstances imagined by those who support amending the Constitution.

2005 Ron Paul 26:10
In conclusion, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 841, the Continuity in Representation Act, which ensures an elected Congress can continue to operate in the event of an emergency. This is what the drafters of the Constitution intended. Furthermore, passage of H.R. 841 sends a strong message to terrorists that they cannot alter our republican government.

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