A major platform of the Tea Party cleared the Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday — but not until after the requisite pomp and circumstance of a heated House floor debate.
The resolution, known as the "Repeal Amendment," would put Virginia on record as supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give states the power to overturn federal law if two-thirds of state legislatures agreed.
Del. Jim LeMunyon, R-Loudoun, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation was a response to the burgeoning growth of the federal government over the past several decades. The government now is too big for 535 members of Congress to provide effective oversight of it, he said.
But Del. Joseph Morrissey, D-Henrico, railed against the proposal, hinting that it was remnant of the angst that followed the passage of the federal health care law last March.
“You don’t treat this sacred document willy-nilly,” he said. "We're just posturing and pandering to our base."
Speaker of the House William Howell, R-Stafford, is a major proponent of the Repeal Amendment. But Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, one of the House's most conservative members, spoke out against the measure after it had already been passed.
“You have supported something supported by an elite group within the Tea Party, but not all of it," Marshall said. “I would have much more to say, but I can see that you didn’t want to hear it.”
Prospects for passage are considerably narrower in the Senate — a "Repeal" proposal in that chamber has already stalled in subcommittee.
Also in the House Tuesday, other Republican-led measures that would exempt goods produced and kept in Virginia from federal regulation, tighten regulations on abortion clinics in the state, and exempt certain homes from federal energy efficiency standards cleared procedural hurdles.