Skip to main content

US Congress constitutional duties. Is there an equivalent to Military Dereliction of duty for the House of Representatives?

Roswell, GA |

The primary United States Constitutional responsibility for the House is the “power of the purse”. With this Constitutional power also brings responsibility and liability. Failure to provide and protect the Treasure of the Citizens of the United States imply abrogation of duty to the collective Citizens of the United States. Not to special interests nor advertising dollars that effectively "buy votes". Failure to reach a budget is abrogation of duty. Penalty? No benefits, nor salary, nor vacation, provided by the Citizens of the United States, if and until the duty to control and distribute the purse is reached by the time prescribed by the Constitution. This also implicates the duty to protect and defend the United States of America, and it's Constitution! Time for a one term limit?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    There are two ways of disciplining the United States Senate and the President for failing to negotiate with the House of Representatives to produce a budget: one is political and the other is constitutional.

    The political solution is to vote for different members of the Senate and a different President. You will notice that I have not suggested replacing your member of Congress, regardless of party affiliation. The reason for that is that the US House of Representatives has passed a budget and forwarded it to the Senate every year of Republican control since that party regained the Senate; but the Senate has failed to do likewise. In addition, the President since taking office in 2009, has consistently failed to obey federal law requiring a timely, date-certain, proposal of a budget. You could, of course, vote for a different representative, but that would apply electoral discipline to a member of the one House of Congress that has not, at least technically, been derelict in its duty.

    The constitutional solutions include at least two approaches.

    One is much discussed recently as a result of the publication of "The Liberty Amendments," by constitutional lawyer and radio host, Mark Levin. That approach is for the States -- in sufficient number -- call for a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution. Such a convention could make changes to the Constitution in the nature of your proposed limitations on benefits for failure of duty. That approach is outlined in the Constitution, Article V: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate."

    The other is for the balance of powers to do its work, if it will and can. The Congress has the law-making power. The President has the executive power. The Supreme Court and the lower federal courts have the judicial power. These powers were divided in order to guard against a rising tyranny in our country. But, guarding against tyranny isn't the only effect of depositing law enforcement and adjudicatory powers outside the Congress (the Congress being both House and Senate). That reason is that the laws of the United States may still be applied against those that enact them. If Senators or Congressmen do engage in unlawful conduct (accepting bribes, committing extortion), then that second constitutional discipline of prosecution and punishment may discipline the individual wrong-doer.

    This answer is not a substitute for consulting with and retaining the services of an attorney for your legal needs. By providing this answer, I am not entering into an attorney client relationship with you.


  2. Vote for a different Rep.

    My answers are not intended as anything more than an educational response to generic questions posted on this site.


  3. Have a read at the machinations of Congress during the revolutionary war, or frankly any period since....nothing new here .....

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT RELY ON ANY ADVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM ME OR ANY OTHER ATTORNEY IN THIS FORUM. Legal advice comes after a complete review of the facts and relevant documents and an expressed (written) agreement of representation that forms attorney-client confidentiality. Neither of these two events can occur in this forum. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this or any other matter.


  4. The problem with imposing punishment for failure to agree is that it is unclear who to blame that failure on. Surely you do not mean that a senator can be punished because others refuse to vote his way, or that he can be punished for refusing to vote for a bill he does not agree with. No individual senator has the power to pass a bill on his own. Basically, your options are impeachment (very unlikely and difficult) or voting out at next election. Impeachment would work if someone has actually bought votes, but I think you probably have no proof of that. A one term limit would require a constitutional amendment, but is possible. It is hard for me to see how that would lead to greater levels of agreement among senators.

    Contact me at 248-395-2745 for a free consultation. You and I do not have an attorney-client relationship formed by our communications on this website. Advice given by me on this website is general advice based on partial information. You should not rely on any advice given without first hiring a lawyer in the area where the case is pending, and providing that lawyer with full information.

Lawsuits and disputes topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics