Republicans are so determined to stop what they say is abusive and unlawful expansion of the federal government under President Obama that they are willing to abdicate power to the states to do it.
Taking its cue from the Bill of Rights, the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House Republicans, says that the 10th Amendment dictates that initiatives such as the health care reform law and other massive government programs are the business of state governments, not Washington.
So the RSC this week announced that it had formed a 10th Amendment task force to help "usher in a new era of federalism" and to work to disperse power from Washington back to regions, states and local governments.
Washington's treatment of the 10th Amendment, which decrees that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution are reserved to the states, has been "out of kilter" for decades, said committee co-founder Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah.
"This is not just talking about shrinking government; this is talking about dispersing programs back to states where they can be handled more creatively and more effectively and efficiently," Mr. Bishop said during a news conference Thursday outside the Capitol to publicize the task force.
The RSC says its newest committee was created in response to public outcry over what it calls repeated "one size fits all" solutions from Washington. The task force will work, it says, to "educate" Congress and the public about the importance of maintaining a proper balance between state and federal governments.
"We don't believe that state legislatures and state governors are an anachronism. We don't think they're a relic of things gone by," said Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. "We think they're a very important part of the way our Founders set up our form of government."
Although none of the dozen or so RSC members who spoke at the news event mentioned health care, Republicans still are smarting over their bitter defeat to Democrats over the passage of the Obama administration's health care overhaul.
About 20 attorneys general have filed suit to stop the enactment of the law in their states, saying their 10th Amendment rights have been trampled.
RSC members denied that the task force was in direct response to the health care law.
"This is much more broad than one issue," said RSC Chairman Tom Price of Georgia. "The health care bill that was passed and signed into law was just one of the most recent examples of the intrusion and the oppression that people across this land feel that their federal government is currently taking as a posture."
Mr. Bishop also said the conservative "tea party" movement didn't directly spur the formation of the 10th Amendment Committee. He said its gestation dates back years.
"I spent eight terms in the Utah Legislature, I was speaker of the House, and I learned to hate the federal government," he said. "I have always had this [anti-Washington] concept."
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