shape of United States filled in with American flag on striped background with words national news

Senate Republicans Fail to Secure Votes to Repeal Obamacare and Defund Planned Parenthood

After much anticipation from pro-life Americans, the disappointing news came this week that Senate Republicans weren’t able to defund Planned Parenthood in the Obamacare legislation because they didn’t have enough Republicans who would support it with that provision.

FACT was one of several conservative organizations to sign the Susan B. Anthony List letter to Congress earlier this week urging leaders in Congress to stop taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood by way of a budget reconciliation bill. “Clearly, Republican leadership in the Senate does not believe in the party’s platform or in urging the Republican members to support its key provisions. Republicans are electing people who run on a Republican ticket but who are not Republicans,” said FACT’s president, David Fowler.

News Sources:

NOTE: FACT provides links to external websites for educational purposes only. The inclusion of any links to other websites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement.

Get News Stories In Your Inbox Every Week

shape of United States filled in with American flag on striped background with words national news

David Fowler Signs Letter to HHS to Rescind Burdensome Obamacare Mandates

Letter to HHS, July 10, 2017Today the Family Policy Alliance sent a letter signed by the leaders of 27 family policy councils, including David Fowler of Family Action of Tennessee, to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, asking the department to rescind regulations that were adopted to aid in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The letter is in response to an invitation from Secretary Price to advise him of the most burdensome provisions of Obamacare. The signatories seek to “rescind both the transgender and contraceptive mandates, thereby lifting the regulatory burden off the backs of religious professionals and organizations” and to help ensure that the religious freedoms of people of faith violated by these two mandates are restored.

The transgender mandate forces nearly all doctors and hospitals to provide “gender transition procedures” for everyone—and that means children—and there is no religious exemption. This problem is compounded by the fact that the only authority for the mandate is through another rule in which the term “sex” was redefined to include “gender identity.”

Additionally, the contraceptive mandate requires employer-based health plans to cover “preventative health services,” which include sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs. There is likewise no religious exemption for those who oppose this mandate.

News Source:

NOTE: FACT provides links to external websites for educational purposes only. The inclusion of any links to other websites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement.

Get News Stories In Your Inbox Every Week

A crowd of people, a blue checkmark, and the U.S. Capitol

Hoodwinked No More: How to Drain the Swamp

As much as Donald Trump’s “Make America Great” appealed to many Americans, “Drain the Swamp” had more appeal to me. It will be hard to make America great again if the congressional swamp is not drained. I did some digging and found out how to identify the plug and drain the swamp. Are you ready to insist that the plug be pulled?

To drain anything, you first have to find what is plugging things up. In the swamp we call Congress, it seems to me that the greatest “plug” is the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House passes good legislation that goes to the Senate to die. I have gotten to the point that I almost don’t care what the House does because it’s DOA in the Senate.

Is Cloture Really the “Plug”?

It dies there because of another “plug”—the cloture rule that requires 60 U.S. senators to vote to cut off debate in order to get to the vote on the underlying bill. The Republican majority has told us for eight years that they have not been able to get the 60 votes they need to vote on a budget or a repeal of Obamacare.

We’ve been told that the only way around the cloture rule was the “nuclear option,” by which the Senate president (or presiding officer) and the majority simply “rule” based on a strained reading of another rule that only a majority vote is required. This was called the “nuclear” option because manipulation of the rules would “blow up” the rule book, so to speak, and forever do away with cloture. This, we were told, was the only way out, and it would be “bad” in the long run.

In keeping with my personality, I couldn’t accept the possibility that the majority in the Senate had not left themselves some way out under the tyranny of the minority. So I began to research the U.S. Senate rules and began to make some phone calls.

We’ve Been Hoodwinked

It seems you and I have been hoodwinked. The fact is a simple majority can bring about a vote on a bill. Sixty votes is not an absolute requirement if the Republican majority is actually willing to do its job.

All that is required is for the president of the Senate to strictly enforce what is called the two-speech rule on motions to proceed to whatever bill it is the majority wants an up or down vote on. This is not “blowing up” the rules by manipulating them, but actually following the rules.

The two-speech rule means that a senator can speak to a motion only two times. Once there is no one remaining who can speak (they’ve had their two speeches) or wants to speak, the majority can vote to proceed to a vote on the underlying bill. Republicans need to just let the Democrats exhaust themselves physically and, in the public’s eye, politically.

We should not be hoodwinked into thinking this means marathon sessions, without food and sleep for days on end. The two-speech rule does not have to look like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

From what I understand, the majority can determine how long the Senate will remain in session each day. Late-night and/or weekend sessions are not required. Republicans just need to keep a majority available while they are in session to come to the floor to repeal any procedural motions the Democrats might make.

That could mean that Republicans can’t go out on the town for drinks; it could mean that they need to stick to their offices for a couple of days, maybe sleep on the couch. With many in our military sleeping on cots in the desert, that should not be too much to ask, given that being a senator is a “tour of duty” for which they ran.

If the Republican senators really wanted to vote on something—like a budget, the repeal of Obamacare, or a Supreme Court nominee—they just have to be willing to stay on the motion to proceed for as many days as it takes until the obstructionists run out of speeches they can give.

The Real Plug: Republicans or Democrats?

If the Republican leadership in the Senate is unwilling to invoke the two-speech rule because it would be too inconvenient for their members, then we’ll know that they are the real plug keeping the swamp from being drained, not the Democrats. But if Republicans are disciplined, and Democrats go on for days, Americans will know that they are the plug.

I’m for finding out which party is the real plug in the U.S. Senate I’m for pulling the plug by invoking the two-speech rule. What about you?

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event

pills in the form of a dollar sign, a doctor, and wedding rings

Why Obamacare Haters Should Care About Gay ‘Marriage’

At first blush, it would seem that fiscal conservatives who hate things like Obamacare would be uninterested in the Supreme Court’s ruling in June on gay “marriage.” But the same judicial philosophy that gave us gay “marriage” kept Obamacare alive. Consequently, no one’s liberties are safe from this Court. No one’s.

To understand why the judicial philosophy undergirding the gay “marriage” ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, is the same as the SCOTUScare ruling, King v. Burwell, you need to understand what the Court did in King.

The Legal Issue in King

In King v. Burwell, the issue was whether government insurance premium subsidies were only available for polices purchased on insurance exchanges “established by a state.” The reference to “state” exchanges occurred upwards of seventeen times in the statutory language of Obamacare.

As you know, this was a problem since few states established exchanges; most were established by the federal government.

The Practical Problem in King

This was a problem because the Court knew that if the subsidies could not also be given for policies on federal, government-established exchanges, then Obamacare would collapse as a practical matter. The premiums would not longer be affordable for the majority of policies being bought through state and federal exchanges.

So, effectively the Court “interpreted” the statutory words “established by the state” to mean “established by the state or the Federal Government.” That’s exactly what Justice Scalia said in his dissent, “The court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’ … .”

What the King Court Really Did

What the Court did was effectively legislatively enact a statutory amendment to Obamacare. Passing laws and amending laws is not the function of the Court.

But, liberals say, “Obamacare would have collapsed. What was the Court supposed to do?” Again, Scalia gave the answer, “Rather than rewriting the law under the pretense of interpreting it, the Court should have left it to Congress to decide what to do about the Act’s limitation of tax credits to state exchanges.” Of course, Congress might not have re-enacted Obamacare, but that is a political question and should be of no concern to the judiciary.

Letting the Court judge and the legislature legislate is the complementary work of governing envisioned in our Constitution. It is nothing strange or new. Every year as a state Senator, I voted on laws amending existing laws to “fix” something that in our limited foresight we didn’t anticipate. Congress, not the judiciary, should have amended Obamacare.

The Obamacare and Gay ‘Marriage’ Judicial Philosophy Are the Same

But here is where the Court’s judicial philosophy is the same as under Obergefell. In both cases, the Court was acting as a legislative body. In King v. Burwell, the majority amended a statute to say what it didn’t say, and in Obergefell they expect states to treat their marriage statutes as if the Court had amended them to say “two people” can marry instead of “one man and one woman.”

Violating Basic Principles of Government

Our Founding Fathers were very clear regarding the limited nature of the Court’s power. Federalist Paper 78 says that the Court has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment.”

In other words, the Court can judge whether a law is constitutional, and it can judge the meaning of the actual words in law, but it can’t exercise the political “force” nor “will” to write a law or to amend a law by interpreting it to add words that aren’t there. When the Court does this, it should scare all of us.

Why This Is Scary for All

We are warned in Federalist Paper 78, “[T]here is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.” This is true because when words no longer have any meaning, as they apparently did not in King, then the words of statutes and the Constitution will morph into whatever five unelected, unrepresentative lawyers on the Supreme Court say it is. Representative government of and by and for the people is dead!

What Can Tennesseans Do?

Since Congress has chosen to abdicate its responsibilities under the Constitution to reign in the Court, it will be up to the states to do so. While Congress chose to do nothing to keep the Court from amending its Obamacare statute, Tennesseans can insist that its legislature not be so spineless. We can insist that Tennessee show Congress how to have a backbone by reminding the Court that only our state legislature can amend Tennessee’s marriage statutes. If you want to encourage them to do that, then go to Reclaiming Our Liberty to find out what you can do.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event

Madison, Hamilton, and Federalist Papers

How We Lost the Tenth Amendment

As I continue to reflect on the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling, I’ve wondered how we got to the point that the states lost control of an area of the law that, just two years ago, the Court acknowledged to be historically within their province. I have an idea, and the blame for it lies at our feet.

Recently, I was re-reading portions of the Federalist Papers to better understand the role of the federal judiciary as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. I was doing so that I might learn something from the past that would help me better understand what could be done in the present to reign in the Supreme Court in order to restore greater liberty to the people by returning more power to the states.

In Federalist Paper 46, James Madison said that “the powers proposed to be lodged in the federal government” (which includes the judicial branch) would be “as little formidable to those reserved to the individual States, as they are indispensably necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Union.” Madison said this to silence “all those alarms which have been sounded, of a meditated and consequential annihilation of the State governments” by those opposed to the Constitution.

More particularly, Madison said the hope was that structure and limited powers under the Constitution would “partake” of a “spirit” such that the “new federal government” would be “disinclined to invade the rights of the individual States, or the prerogatives of their governments.”

This was true even with respect to the judiciary. In discussing the role of the judiciary in Federalist Paper 82, Alexander Hamilton said, “the States will retain all PRE-EXISTING authorities which may not be exclusively delegated to the federal head,” which “head” obviously included the federal Judiciary.

So, if that was the intention, we have every right to ask what happened. Were not the other two branches of the “federal head”–the Executive and the Congress–infused with that “spirit” which was to protect the “rights” and “prerogatives” of the states?

Of course they were, but they have failed to use them. But why?

I think the answer can be found, at least in part, in Federalist Paper 78, wherein Hamilton said that “liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments.”

In my view, that “fear” has been realized because expansive powers given by the Supreme Court to Congress (consider Obamacare, now known as SCOTUScare) and to the Executive have given rise to the aforesaid “union,” aggregating in “the federal head” great power by which their respective attentiveness to the governments of the states has been diminished.

I’m not necessarily big on conspiracy theories, but I am big on the fact that men are not angels, as Madison said in Federalist Paper 51. In other words, men lust for power and control and have since Adam and Eve decided to take things in their own hands. The Supreme Court gave Congress and the Executive powers beyond those envisioned by our Founding Fathers and, as they say, who wants to “bite the hand that feeds them”?

So, is the loss of our “rights” and “prerogatives” as a state the fault of our presidents and members of Congress over the years? No, the fault is ours. “We the people” have failed to understand our own Constitution and how our compound form of government–a limited federal government and state governments–was supposed to work. As a consequence, we’ve given our votes to presidents and members of Congress who either did not understand it or who wanted to aggregate power to themselves.

We have met the enemy and it is us.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event