As tea parties and conservative attorneys general cry louder about the intrusion of the federal government, ten conservative House members, led by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, have formed a “Tenth Amendment Task Force” to promote federalism and give more power to state governments.
Their mission? To “disperse power from Washington and restore the Constitutional balance of power through liberty-enhancing federalism.”“We’re trying to educate Congress,” Bishop spokesman Cody Stewart told TPM. Federalism, he said, has fallen out of focus — out of focus with Republicans, who often only use states’ rights as a talking point, and out of focus with the voting public, who often have no idea what the concept is.
So Bishop, along with conservative stalwarts like Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Randy Neugebauer, formed a new task force under the auspices of the Republican Study Committee, the House’s conservative caucus.
The Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Among the group’s first efforts will be a push to let states have more control of certain things, including education and transportation. The effort, Stewart said, is based on a Washington Post op-ed written in February by two Utah state legislators.
The pair (the Republican state senate leader and house speaker) suggested that the federal government turn over total control of three sectors — education, transportation and Medicaid — to the Utah state government. In their plan, Washington would allow the state to keep its residents’ specific tax dollars that would have gone to the federal government for the three programs. In turn, the state would be exempt from federal regulations.
“We believe the federal government is attempting to do far more than it has the capacity to execute well,” they wrote. “The job descriptions assumed by President Obama and Congress have grown far larger than their ability to deliver. We’d like to relieve some of their burden.”
The task force, inspired by the op-ed (and who’s leader, we should note again, represents Utah), is now working on legislation that would allow Utah, and any other states that wanted to, take over some sectors of government as an experiment.
Perhaps blue states should get in on the action, Stewart said.
“Federalism makes as much sense, if not more sense, for liberals,” he said, pointing out that states like California and New York pay more into the federal government than they get back. Many Republican-leaning states, on the other hand, get more than they pay in and would lose money. That’s a risk, Stewart said, the task force is willing to take.
The group’s members, in addition to Bishop, Blackburn and Neugebauer, are Reps. Jason Chaffetz, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Scott Garrett, Doug Lamborn, Cynthia Lummis and Tom McClintock.
The group’s official launch will happen in the coming weeks.