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Smith Report 11.7.2013

Congress Should Not Receive Special Treatment
When I am home in Missouri one of the most frequent complaints I hear about Congress is that its members live under a different set of rules than the rest of America. The idea that Members of Congress should be able to create special exemptions from themselves is not only unfair, it is contrary to the spirit of constitutionalism articulated by the Founding Fathers and reflected in our Constitution. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 57, once it becomes acceptable “to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.”

To ensure Washington politicians are treated no differently than the rest of America, I am announcing my support for a new amendment to our Constitution. The 28th amendment to the Constitution would read: Congress shall make no law respecting the citizens of the United States that does not also apply to the senators and representatives.
The amendment is based on the simple notion that Congress must live under the same laws as everybody else. If Congress imposes burdens on the American people as a whole, then members of Congress must also face those burdens. Put simply, Congress needs to start eating what they’re cooking. For people who believe in constitutional government, it just makes sense.
Recently over 100 Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, joined with me in having their salaries withheld during the government shutdown. The principle behind the 28th Amendment, Congress should be treated no differently than anyone else, led me to have my salary withheld. Over 800,000 federal employees and countless private sector workers felt the pinch of the government shutdown. This week I wrote a personal check to the United States Treasury for the 16 days of the government shutdown. Back home in Missouri folks get paid once the job is done. I returned 16 days’ worth of my pay to the Treasury because Congress was not getting the job done during the shutdown.
From unconstitutional recess appointments to statutes that surpass the powers delegated to Congress, America is experiencing a breakdown in constitutional government. Those of us who believe that American exceptionalism is rooted in the unique nature of our founding principles must commit ourselves to upholding the intent of our founders and the integrity of our Constitution. The 28th amendment begins the process by striking a blow against the ruling-class mentality that has taken over Washington.