Texas alleges Biden administration unlawfully enacted 2023 federal budget

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on Feb. 15, 2023, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2023, arguing in part that certain CAA provisions violate state sovereignty and that Congress unlawfully passed the law without a quorum of members present.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the CAA in December 2022 with 201 of the chamber’s 435 voting members present. House rules at the time under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) allowed members to vote by proxy due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition to general appropriations provisions, the CAA created certain workforce accommodations for pregnant employees as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s case-management pilot program for individuals who entered the country without legal permission.

Paxton argued that “the Constitution defines absent members as excluded from ‘a Quorum to do Business’ and therefore unauthorized to vote to enact legislation—by ‘proxy’ or otherwise.” Paxton further argued that the CAA’s workplace accommodations “attempt to abrogate Texas’s sovereign protection from being sued without its consent” and that the DHS pilot program “harms Texas’s quasi-sovereign interests in the health and well-being, both physical and economic, of its residents and in its rightful status within the federal system.”

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas had not set a date for oral argument in the case as of Feb. 27, 2023. The White House had not responded to the lawsuit as of Feb. 27, 2023. 

Additional reading: