“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ending Lame Duck Congressional Sessions

Betsy McCaughey, former New York lieutenant governor and health care legislative pundit, wrote an insightful editorial in the Wall Street Journal recently entitled This Lame Duck Session Should Be the Last.

McCaughey reminds us that, prior to 1933, Congress didn't reconvene until March 3rd. The 20th Amendment cut the lame duck period by three months, leaving just a two-month stub of a session. But, as McCaughey emphasizes, back then, "no one imagined that the old Congress would return to the capital during that time."

She helpfully explains that only in extreme circumstances, such as the Korean War and WWII, did Congress ever reconvene after November elections, until two decades ago. Now, the lame duck session has become one of vindictive legislation jammed through by a party which lost on the first Tuesday of that November.

She recommends that,

"When John Boehner, the presumptive House Speaker, takes charge in January, he should introduce a bill providing that Congress will not meet between the November 2012 election and Jan. 3 2013. That simple change in the law will put the voters back where they always belong: in charge."

Fine for now. Is it each Congress' inability to bind future Congress' that prevents legislation, rather than Constitutional Amendments, from solving this problem permanently?

If so, it should be done. Along with, while they're at it, term limits on Congress and all Federal judges.

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