The passing of the $1.7 trillion federal budget, which CNBC referred to as Nancy Pelosi’s “final major achievement” as then-Speaker of the House, occurred in December 2022. A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Pelosi and the House of Representatives acted unconstitutionally under her leadership when it approved the budget.

Federal Judge Targeted Insufficient In-Person Attendance With Ruling

U.S. District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that Nancy Pelosi violated the Constitution with the passing of the federal budget based on an unmet quorum. Multiple reports confirm that members were allowed to vote for the bill without having to be physically in attendance at the Capitol when the budget was officially adopted on December 23.

Source: Wikimedia/US Department of Labor

The budget passed with a vote of 225-201. Former President Donald Trump nominated Judge Hendrix in January 2019. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination later that year in July 2019.

Hendrix Confirms That He Did Not Block the Entire Budget

Judge Hendrix, who also serves as an adjunct professor at Texas Tech University School of Law, reportedly did not block the entire budget. Ultimately, Texas was focused on blocking two provisions, but lost on one of them.

Source: The Federalist Society

Hendrix passed the ruling that Texas had no standing to target the $20 million in the budget allocated to fund services for illegal immigrants as they went through immigration removal proceedings. However, Hendrix did agree to fulfill the state’s request regarding the blocking of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Provided ‘Reasonable Accommodations’

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was designed to provide “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace for employees that were limited by childbirth, pregnancy or other related medical conditions. It did not replace any laws at any level (local, state or federal) that provided even more protection for those affected workers.

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A common misconception is that the PWFA focused on discrimination against the affected workers. On the contrary, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) already enforced the rules applying to that protection. The PWFA only focused on accommodations.

Hendrix Claims EEOC, DOJ Unable to Enforce PWFA Against Texas

Judge Hendrix claims that the EEOC and Department of Justice (DOJ) are not able to enforce the PWFA against the Texas state government. The PWFA was initially passed by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

Source: Flickr/Focal Foto

The limit to the accommodations provided by the PWFA was if the accommodations in question would cause the employer to experience an “undue hardship.” The order reportedly goes into effect on March 5, 2024. It received a temporary stay from the date of entry to allow enough time for the defendants to file an appeal.

Attorney General Paxton Says ‘Congress Acted Egregiously’

Attorney General Paxton stated in a news release that “Congress acted egregiously” by passing the $1.7 trillion spending bill “with fewer than half the members of the House bothering to do their jobs.” Paxton was referring to the act of “showing up” to “vote in person.”

Source: Flickr/Arnessa Garrett

Patton’s office reportedly declared that the attorney general “secured a major victory in defense of the United States Constitution” by targeting the lack of quorum during the December 23, 2022 session in question. Attorney General Ken Paxton defeated his Democratic opponent, Sam Houston, in November 2014 and assumed his position in January of 2015.

Paxton Targeted President Biden, Nancy Pelosi in Statement

Paxton apparently targeted both Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden in his comments, alleging that both were at fault for their respective roles. According to Paxton, Pelosi “abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass the law.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons/The White House

He added that President Biden then signed it, “knowing they violated the Constitution.” Paxton further refers to their decision as a “stunning violation of the rule of law” and expressed his “relief” that “the Court upheld the Constitution.”

Hendrix Criticized Proxy Voting System Used in Pandemic Era

Judge Hendrix thoroughly criticized the proxy voting system used during the pandemic era within the content of his 120-page opinion. He stated that “despite the Constitution’s text and centuries of consistent practice, the House in 2020 created a rule that permitted non-present members to be included” and “vote by proxy.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons/The White House

Hendrix prefaced his statement by referencing the fact that Congress “understood the Constitution’s Quorum Clause” for over 235 years. The Quorum Clause requires the majority of members within the Senate or House to attend physically when passing legislation to meet quorum.

Hendrix Labeled Bill Provision ‘Unenforceable’ Since ‘Congress Violated the Constitution’

Hendrix further explained that the provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 were “unenforceable” since “Congress violated the Constitution in passing the law.” He noted the conclusion of the Court that the “Act at issue passed in violation of the Constitution’s Quorum Clause” since it included members that were “indisputably absent” during the quorum count.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/NASA

The federal judge also highlighted the Supreme Court precedent which held the requirement of in-person presence according to the Quorum Clause as well. He wrote that the text within the Clause “distinguishes those absent members from the quorum.” In addition, it created a “mechanism” for achieving a physical quorum by “compelling absent members to attend.”

Pelosi Felt It Was ‘Urgent And Necessary’ to Enact the Omnibus Package

In a letter written to her fellow Democrats in December 2022, the outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi referenced quite a few different Democratic victories offered by the package. For instance, she highlighted the ability to increase nutrition funding for children in low-income households.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/US House of Representatives

Pelosi wrote that it was “urgent and necessary” to enact the omnibus package to “keep government open and delivering for America’s families.” The $1.7 trillion spending bill was designed to fund federal agencies for the rest of the 2023 fiscal year, which ran through September of 2023.

Kevin McCarthy Referred to Spending Package as a ‘$2T Monstrosity’

Around the same time that Pelosi wrote about her support of the bill, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took an opposing stand against it. He tweeted that their “bills will be dead on arrival in the House” when he became Speaker if the “nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy emphasized that the bill would essentially proceed in spite of their objections and “the will of the American people.” McCarthy later served as the 55th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from January-October of 2023.

The Spending Package Consisted of $858 Billion for Defense Programs

One of the major provisions of the spending package was the $858 billion allocated for defense programs. This was reportedly an increase of $80 billion over the previous levels.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/The White House

There was also $773 billion reserved for other types of domestic initiatives – such as the $119 billion set aside for veterans’ health care. Nancy Pelosi promoted the increase in healthcare spending as part of the discussions – including the increase in funds used for mental health services and $45 billion reserved for assisting Ukraine with both humanitarian and military methods.