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A Democratic congresswoman from Texas has declared "martial law" is the solution to the current partial shutdown of the federal government.
The comments from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, took some listeners by surprise, since a common understanding of "martial law" would be of an authority – a president or a military commander – using military force to impose its will on an uncooperative people.
Think machine guns, tanks and jail cells.
It came up during Lee's speech on the House floor on Monday, when she was lamenting the plight of those left with uncertain futures because of the partial federal government shutdown brought on when Senate Democrats refused to consider compromises to a budget plan offered by House Republicans.
She said, "Our economy is bigger than the European Union. That means countries like Spain, Germany, France, England, all those members who as well are our allies, but look to America – how shameful it is for someone to be held, and if you will, tied up by their own individual personal interests.
"One would ask if the Founding Fathers, as imperfect as America was as she began, had come from the 13 colonies and various districts, and probably interests, and had held to those specialized interests, would we have created a nation that started out by saying we organize to create a more perfect union? Albeit that there were groups of populations that did not have dignity and justice and citizenship at that time, something that I could look back at in bitterness, but I do not, because this is the greatest nation in the world. But we are not showing ourselves that way.
"It is not the truth to suggest that there are not enough voters, members of Congress, that would vote right now today to open this government. It is something called a continuing resolution, but it's a bill that you put on the floor that has been passed already by Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate. "
She said, "This is not an idea of anyone over another person. Republican and Democratic senators have already voted for this clean bill that we could vote on today. We have martial law. What that means – and my colleagues know what it means – is that you can put a bill on in just minutes."
She accused Republicans of forcing people to decide "amongst your children which ones to feed."
At Washingtonsblog was the comment: "The last time we heard Congress members use the phrase martial law was when Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski, and Senator James Inhofe, all said that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned of martial law if the TARP banks bailouts weren't approved."
A commenter suggested Jackson Lee was using it in the context of House rules that call for one day between announcing legislation and a vote:
"Instead, under 'martial law,' the leadership can file legislation with tens or hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and [vote] on it, before members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted…"
Critics noted that Jackson Lee wasn't exactly following the Constitution anyway, because she advocated for House approval of a spending bill from the Senate.
"Article I, Section 7, Clause I of the Constitution … states, 'All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives," said one of the YouTube users who uploaded the video to share with Americans.
One other observer, who also loaded the footage onto YouTube, noted, "Can someone please explain why the representative from Texas used this language?"
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Democrats to America: We own the government! by Ann Coulter
Obama's a dictator – what more evidence do we need? by Erik Rush
Let's make shutdown permanent by Robert Ringer
Is the tea party anti-government? by Chuck Morse
Concern about runaway spending is 'anarchy'? by Larry Elder
Prince Barry's scam by Mike Lester