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Texas attorney general sues Biden over spending bill

 February 19, 2023

President Biden was hit with a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday over the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which was signed into law in late December.

Paxton’s lawsuit claims that the $1.7 trillion spending bill was unlawful and unconstitutional.

The Texas attorney general is arguing that the law should be nullified as too many Representatives voted by proxy, with only 201 out of 427 voting members actually present in the House during the vote.

“Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution authorize the House to pass trillion-dollar bills when more than half the members are in their homes, vacationing, or are anywhere physically other than the United States Capitol Building,” said Paxton.

He also expressed a number of other issues with the details of the bill itself, claiming that the funds are being misdirected.

What Does the Spending Bill Include?

The omnibus spending bill provides $858 billion in defense spending and $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs. Around $45 billion of the $1.7 trillion total is reserved for additional funding for Ukraine.

Other aspects of the bill include a boost in spending for disaster relief, increased funding for U.S. Capitol Police, grants for homeless assistance, support for veterans, and a pilot program for undocumented migrants. The bill also focuses on children’s mental health and substance abuse, environmental protection, protection for pregnant workers, food assistance, and more.

Although the bill was well-received on both sides of the Senate, negotiations were required to pass it through the House. Republicans specifically, took issue with multiple sections of the 4,155-page bill.

Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12), for example, did not approve of the general 22% increase in non-discretionary spending. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), meanwhile, criticized that the money sent to Ukraine should be spent on Americans and border protection instead.

Paxton, specifically, did not support the added protection for pregnant workers, citing it as unnecessary and a burden on businesses. He also took issue with the funding of programs that assist illegal immigrants, pointing out that the money secured for customs and border security goes to processing, not protecting the border.

The Votes Didn’t Count

In an attempt to reverse the law, Paxton argues that due to a large number of proxy votes, the appropriations cannot be considered valid.

Voting by proxy was originally implemented during the COVID crisis by Nancy Pelosi and has been widely utilized by both the Republicans and Democrats since then. Paxton, however, argues that the time has come to end proxy voting and he is not alone. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-20) and others share a similar view.

“Our Founders would be turning over in their graves if they could see how former Speaker Nancy Pelosi used proxy voting to upend our constitutional system. That is especially true regarding the 1.7 trillion-dollar bill that should have never been ‘passed.’ Joe Biden, who’s been in Washington for half a century, should have known he couldn’t legally sign it either. But he never seems to let the law get in the way of him doing whatever he wants to do,” Paxton claimed.

It is not yet clear if the lawsuit will go through. So far, Paxton has filed more than 25 lawsuits against Biden, with 10 coming in 2023 alone.

No comment from the White House nor the Justice Department has been issued.