Federal Legislature

The United States Senate

Apparently, it’s time to discuss the United States Senate and how it works. Again.

Yesterday, Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted this:

I don’t know where he’s getting his 2,000 senators over the next 250 years from. There are still only two per state as it has been since the inception of the country. We started with 26 (two for each of the 13 States) and we now have 100 (two for each of the States). This Valentine’s Day will mark the 110th anniversary of the 48th state, Arizona, being admitted to the union. The final two, Alaska and then Hawaii, were admitted on January 3 and August 21 of 1959 respectively.

Does he see in that a trend that will add 1,000 states over relatively the same period of time? Also, the House has been limited to 435 members since 1929 and the Permanent Apportionment Act. Where would he put 2,000 Senators and the however many added House members?

Or, as is more probable, does he think that the Senate is or should be based on the population like the House of Representatives is. There are many, many people who are under this misapprehension.

So let’s go over it. The Constitution of the United States, Section 3 deals with the Senate.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

The phrase chosen by the Legislature has been changed by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

The States gave up power when they ratified the 17th Amendment on April 8, 1913, nearly a year after it was passed by Congress on May 13, 1912. It’s also confused a lot of people into thinking that the Senators work for the People instead of for the States.

This is an important distinction because the House of Representatives, the People’s representatives, the people who vote for the popular stuff, vote for the, well, popular stuff. Stuff that brings money back to their districts, money for their constituents, the “free” stuff.

But a lot of that popular stuff comes along with strings. The Federal Government (your taxes) will pay for some of that stuff or will pay for that stuff for a certain period of time but then the State has to pick up the rest. But the promise was for the whole thing. For example, the Federal law says 10 years of Medicaid funded at a certain level but the Fed funding will actually be for four years and the State has to fund it for the final six.

The Senate is supposed to take a look at things like this and say, whoa! Wait a minute! Let’s take a step back and rethink this. Maybe we don’t want those strings. Maybe we don’t want to accept this. During Obamacare Ben Nelson of Nebraska got wording placed in the bill to have Nebraska’s share of the expansion of Medicaid covered for his cloture vote. That Cornhusker Kickback was eventually removed. But Nelson did at least try to represent the State’s interests.

Electoral College

When people get confused over the Senators they get confused over the Electoral College as well. They think that smaller states are “over-represented” because they have three electoral votes versus the larger states that have more. They’ll take the population of the state, divide by the number of electors and show that the quotient of the population of the small state divided by three is smaller than the quotient of the larger state divided by the larger number of electors.

Except that that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works. Each and every state gets one elector for every Senator. Two for every State. There’s your two. Every state gets one for each of its House Members (Congressional Districts). One hundred electors are divided evenly between the states and 435 electors are divided by population between the states. Just like both Chambers of Congress. It’s not now and never has been divide 535 by population. It’s always been two separate groups.

A few years ago (before CA lost Representatives) someone said it wasn’t fair that Alaska had three Electoral Votes for ~740K people and California had 55 Electoral Votes for ~39 million people. They said that 740,000/3 was 246,667 and 39,000,000/55 was 709.090 so there were like, two times as many people per Electoral Vote in California and it wasn’t FAIR!

Except… Alaska’s EV per Population is ~740,000 and EV per State is 2. And (at the time) California’s 39,000,000/53 = ~735,849 and that’s pretty close to Alaska’s ~740,000 and they still have their 2 State EVs so pretty even.

The Constitution says that “each State shall have at Least one Representative” so a couple of smaller states (WY, VT) may have a very slight population/representative ratio advantage but it’s really negligible.

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Paycheck Fairness

Equal pay has been the law for 51 years. This one is supposed to allow people to ask how much other people get paid. And sue if the employee found she were making less than another employee. If I were working now and anyone asked how much I made, I’d tell them, “It’s none of your d@mn business.” There are so very many reasons why Employee A might be being paid less than Employee B when they’re doing the same job on paper.

What makes it different is different people, with different skills, different interests, different ambitions… And that applies to anyone regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, what-have-you. Even two people doing the exact same job on paper will do it differently and may garner different compensation. Employee A and Employee B have been on the job for the same amount of time. They have the same experience. They started at the same rate. But Employee A does the very minimum required. Employee A clocks in and out exactly on time every day. Employee A never volunteers for special projects. Employee A grumbles whenever asked to do something that isn’t in the job description. Employee B shows initiative. Employee B asks for training in other aspects of the job. Employee B volunteers for special projects and doesn’t mind covering for another employee out sick or on vacation. Employee will stay a few minutes late to get the job done instead of leaving it until the morning. Employee A doesn’t deserve a pay cut, but there should be no issue with giving Employee B a raise. Or giving an annual increase at the bottom of the range to Employee A, and giving an increase at the top of the range to Employee B.

The above is the same regardless of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, or whatever “protected” status one might fall into. What I hate is when people are “protected” and then behave like Employee A above, because they can. Then, if there’s any adverse action to the employee, the employee can sue and say it’s due to his or her protected status. All the costs to defend are on the Employer. Even if the adverse action (no raise/promotion, less of a raise, whatever) had no connection to the status, but to the actions (or non-actions) of the employee.

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Dear Senator Kirk

I sent this to Senator Kirk today via his website contact form:

Senator Kirk,

First, congratulations on your return to the senate. I am very glad you are better.

The paper today said you were in favor of an assault weapons ban. Please reconsider. There is no such thing as an “assault” weapon. The previous ban under President Clinton, did absolutely nothing. It made certain weapons illegal based entirely upon cosmetic aspects of the weapon that had nothing to do with how the weapon fired or its rate of fire.

Full automatic weapons have been illegal since the 1930’s. Semi-automatic sounds scary, but those weapons can fire one shot per trigger pull and no more. Even 20 years ago in the US Army, my M-16 had one shot per trigger pull or a three-shot burst – and I had to set the weapon for the three-shot burst. The civilian AR-15 version of the M-16 doesn’t have that capability. As a member of the military, I thought you’d be aware of this.

We don’t need MORE gun laws. We don’t need to further restrict law-abiding citizens from their Second Amendment rights.

Criminals will obtain weapons illegally no matter what. They are criminals. They don’t care about laws. Look at Chicago. Weapons are pretty much banned and gun violence is through the roof. Gun crimes go down when the law abiding citizenry is free to have weapons. Criminals don’t know who might be able to fight back which deters them. On the other hand, knowing that a victim can’t fight back only encourages them.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Stop SOPA/PIPA

I made an image that can be used as a profile picture on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Click on the image and then save it. Or right-click on the image and choose save from the pop-up menu. If using on Facebook, choose to scale the image in the thumbnail so it stays round.

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Letter to the Editor of the Week

This letter* to the editor in today’s WSJ really struck a chord.

Regarding your editorial “The Debt-Limit Hobbits” (July 30): I join with my other southwest Ohio tea-party leaders in opposing the Boehner plan because we’ll get less than 3% “real” spending cuts in a government that has bloated 40% in four years, and this is not enough. Authorizing $1 trillion in new debt today for the promise of cuts which may or may not work out to be more than that over 10 years is an unfavorable deal.

Kudos to the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, Jim Jordan, Jim DeMint, Michele Bachmann and others for standing on principle and opposing this plan.

As for Middle Earth, to quote Gandalf, standing before the hordes of Mordor at the Black Gate, “Surety you crave! Sauron gives none. If you sue for his clemency you must first do his bidding. These are his terms. Take them or leave them” . . . But as for your terms, we reject them utterly. . . . Begone!”

Ted Stevenot
Co-founder
Clermont County Tea Party
Cincinnati

_*The link goes to today’s letters only so I’m reproducing the entire letter here.

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