U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, raised a few eyebrows Monday when she suggested using “martial law” as a means to pass the clean continuing resolution that would put an end to the partial government shutdown.
“It’s something called a continuing resolution,” Lee said, “but it’s a bill that you put on the floor that has been passed already by Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate… Republican and Democratic senators have already voted for this clean bill that we could vote on today. We have martial law. What that means, and my colleagues know what it means, is that you can put a bill on in just minutes.”
Americans immediately had thoughts of armed soldiers and tanks patrolling streets across the land.
Apparently, though, “martial law” is actually an obscure term for fast-track legislation, a “same-day rule” that would allow Congress to pass a bill, oftentimes without reading it, according to a discussion about it in a 2002 Congressional Record from the House of Representatives.
Paul Joseph Watson, from Infowars.com, explained it further, but noted that Lee’s suggestion would violate the Constitution.
According to Watson:
The term “martial law” in a legislative context is somewhat obscure but it has been used before to define lawmakers’ ability to “fast track” bills without going through the usual congressional process.
However, Lee’s insistence that a Senate-approved resolution to fund the federal government be fast-tracked via “martial law” appears to conflict with Article I, Section 7, Clause I of the Constitution, which states, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”
This clause was included by the founders to ensure that decisions related to the power of the purse reside with the legislative body which is closest to the American people.
The last time martial law was mentioned by a member of Congress was back in 2008 when Rep. Brad Sherman revealed how lawmakers were threatened with “martial law in America” by then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson if they rejected the TARP bailout package.
Watch Lee’s remarks here: