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Lame Duck Congress exempts itself from everything, infinity

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“I don’t like to think of laws as rules you have to follow, but more as suggestions.” — George Carlin

WASHINGTON — A little known provision in an appropriations bill passed in December appears to exempt Congress from all laws, starting Jan. 1. A direct repeal of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 as well as numerous laws of physics, members of the legislative and executive branches are no longer governed by men or restrained by science, as of the first day of the new year.

Instituted during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, it is unknown how or if the 112th will act to revisit the measure when sworn in on Jan. 5. The U.S. Congress Office of Compliance is not scheduled to convene until next week. The vagueness of the amendment has led scholars and pundits on both sides of the aisle to question the extent of its reach and how it will be enforced.

The official language reads simply:


“Members of Congress and congressional staff hereby exempt themselves from whatever it is.”

(i) DEFINITIONS.-In this section:
(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS.-The term “Member of Congress” means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF.-The term “congressional staff” means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.

Passed overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate in the scramble leading up to Christmas and signed into law by President Obama while vacationing in Hawaii, it’s taken days to discover this draft language was somehow re-inserted into the final bill.

Those who’ve read the law say this controversial amendment was written by hand on a sky blue Post-it note and inserted on page 1685 of the “Equality and Fairness for All Americans Act” (H.R. 4171). Believed to have been stripped from a house committee markup and not in the final language, the Post-it was reintroduced in a conference report agreed to in the House, members say, or possibly the Senate.

“It’s disgusting,” said one Midwestern Congressman who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The only time we get anything done is after the election and we force everything through with a gun to our heads and no time to read anything. I voted for this and still don’t know what it was. We just wanted to go home.”

The unique provision was uncovered three days ago as the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) was seeking to designate May as “National Lyme Disease Prevention” month. Despite being a straightforward public awareness campaign, it was learned that Congress and all staff were specifically exempted from observing it. What seemed misplaced at the time, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure on the final day of the lame duck session forbidding ticks from biting lawmakers — past or present — as well as staff, annually from May 1st, 12:00:00 am through May 31st, 11:59:59 pm. Any ticks found in noncompliance will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Members of Congress and government officials are generally exempted from Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) airport screenings. It’s presumed this additional set of congressional perks would include the ability to murder, cheat on a spouse or lose weight as a result of increased calorie intake.

In addition, fundamental laws such as the basic rules of etiquette would conceivably be forgone. Another Post-it mentioned: “Effective in 2011, at cash registers in all 50 states, legislators may take — with no obligation to ever give — a penny.” Members could theoretically take all the pennies with no demand to reciprocate, even when spending $1.00 on a 99-cent item.

Additional Post-its were inserted on subsequent pages — including one allowing members of Congress as well as select staff to carry up to four ounces of medical marijuana; also medical heroin, medical cocaine, medical OxyContin and medical methamphetamine providing, of course, they have a prescription. Strangely enough, under new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines outlined in a Medicare regulation released last week, lawmakers were granted prescriptive authority above physicians and healthcare professionals and each were provided specially-designed prescription pads printed on actual money.

Congressman Barney Frank (D., Mass) yesterday argued the need for legislators to be above the law, literally hovering eight inches above the ground during the press conference in a defiant mocking of the law of gravity. “Why can’t I fwoat?” he demanded. “If I want to fwoat, who’s gonna stop me from fwoating anywhere I pwease.”

Pulitzer Prize winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin suggests this open-ended authority renders the Congressional Accountability Act useless and directly circumvents what the founders intended. Passed in 1995, the CAA applied civil rights, labor and workplace safety and health laws to the U.S. Congress for the first time. Goodwin proposes that the laws of motionnatureattraction and thermodynamics might also be at risk but repeatedly refused to be quoted for this publication, instead pointing to the Federalist Papers:

“If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty.”

Federalist No. 57, Alexander Hamilton or James Madison

Also included in the spending bill was a new regulatory fee seemingly directed only at Coors Brewing Company. By June 1st, all states must collect tax on banquet beer not served inside a banquet hall. Coors has since sought an appeal.

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