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Federal judge rules $1.7 trillion spending bill passed by Congress in 2022 is unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled the U.S. House of Representatives unconstitutionally passed the $1.7 trillion funding bill in 2022 because a quorum was not present during the vote.

A Lubbock, Texas, federal judge ruled Tuesday that lawmakers unconstitutionally passed the $1.7 trillion government funding bill in 2022 when they did so under a pandemic-era rule allowing members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the matter by proxy instead of in person.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, requested the courts block a provision of the funding bill that gave pregnant workers stronger legal protections.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Hendrix reviewed the request and issued a “limited” ruling on one of two provisions Paxton sought to have blocked.


Hendrix, appointed by former President Trump, ruled the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was wrongfully passed, blocking the law from being enforced against the state as an employer.

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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, enacted in December 2022, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers.

In his ruling, Hendrix noted that his injunction is only applicable to state government employees.

Paxton filed a lawsuit last year, arguing the federal spending package was unconstitutionally passed because over half of the House of Representatives were not physically present to provide a quorum, yet they still voted by proxy.

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In May 2020, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, helped get a rule in place allowing lawmakers to vote by proxy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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When Republicans took control of the House in 2022, they ditched the proxy rule after challenging it in court unsuccessfully.

Hendrix said in a 120-page ruling that for over 200 years leading up to the voting proxy rule’s adoption, Congress understood that the majority of members of the House or Senate were required to be physically present to have a quorum to pass legislation, as stipulated under the Constitution’s quorum clause.

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Supreme Court precedent has long held that the Quorum Clause requires presence, and the Clause’s text distinguishes those absent members from the quorum and provides a mechanism for obtaining a physical quorum by compelling absent members to attend,” he wrote.

Paxton said Congress acted “egregiously” when it passed the $1.7 trillion funding bill.

“Congress acted egregiously by passing the largest spending bill in U.S. history with fewer than half the members of the House bothering to do their jobs, show up and vote in person,” Paxton said. “Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi abused proxy voting under the pretext of COVID-19 to pass this law, then Biden signed it, knowing they violated the Constitution. This was a stunning violation of the rule of law. I am relieved the court upheld the Constitution.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

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Reuters reported that Texas Public Policy Foundation lawyer Matthew Miller said the ruling “correctly” concluded a physical quorum was required to vote.

Hendrix also found in his ruling that Texas did not have standing to challenge $20 million appropriated in the bill to fund a pilot program providing case management and other services to noncitizens during immigration removal proceedings.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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