During the House Judiciary Committee’s markup yesterday, Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana cited the Niskanen Center’s David Bier as a leading opponent of a provision in the bill (H.R. 1148) that would coerce states to enforce immigration laws. The representative from New Orleans quoted extensively from Bier’s recent piece outlying the Constitutional issues with state coercion, in order to support his amendment that would have removed the problematic provision from the bill.

Rep. Richmond began by explaining that the bill violated the Supreme Court’s ruling in NFIB v. Sibelius (2012) that found that Congress could not condition all existing Medicaid funding on states complying with Obamacare. Conservatives celebrated the decision as a major success, but as Rep. Richmond noted, H.R. 1148 would deprive states and localities who fail to enforce federal immigration laws of all Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding, along with all other Homeland Security and law enforcement grants.

The congressman then requested unanimous consent to insert into the record articles from both the Cato Institute and Niskanen Center in support of his position that the provisions were unconstitutional coercion of the states. He proceeded to read the passage from the GOP Platform quoted in Niskanen Center’s piece that clearly states the party’s opposition to “assaults on state governments on matters ranging from voter ID laws to immigration” and any law that “violates the principles of federalism” with “grants with mandates attached.” Rep. Richmond concluded his remarks:

I’d ask unanimous consent to enter into the record an article from Cato which backs up my assertion that the law is unconstitutional along with an article from Dave Bier which also talks about the fact that he believes that, under jurisprudence, that this is an unconstitutional law. …

This bill clearly adds mandates and coercion to local governments to do exactly what we want them to do or we’re going to take their federal funding. Now we do a lot of things in Congress to incentivize states to do things, but when it becomes the point of coercion, it violates our Constitution. … When you start withholding federal emergency FEMA money and DHS money for Homeland Security, then it’s not an incentive anymore. This is absolutely a mandate which violates the tenets of the Constitution.

Watch his full remarks at starting at 54:00.

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