Introduction In federal polity, there is a need to provide for regulations to balance federal and state authorities. The rights of the state and the federal government should be clearly defined so that there is no infringement of one by the other. There are many cases where states and local bodies feel that their rights are curbed such as usurping of environment related authority by the Federal Government in 1999. (Schoenbrod : 1999). While ideal conditions in a democratic polity cannot be assured, there is a general equilibrium which emerges.
It is commonly believed that conservatives are in favor of greater independence to states from federal mandates while liberals are more inclined to give priority to the federal government. The universal applicability of this maxim may be limited by factors such as local interests, lobbies and other issues which may result in cross support by liberals and conservatives. But general veracity of this trend needs to be examined. The legislative collegiate comprises of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
This aspect will have to be thus seen in relation to legislation carried out by both these bodies separately to establish it as a general rule rather than a house specific injunction. Ideological support for state independence from federal mandates receives greater support from conservatives than liberals as conservatives are inclined towards greater self government and prefer limited federal impositions on states as against liberals who generally seek limited state autonomy. The issue is being examined in detail in the light of legislative action in two cases as given below:-
(a) Legislative action on H. R. 5 in the 104th Congress. (b) Legislative action on S. 640 in the 102nd Congress Legislative action on H. R. 5 in the 104th Congress Legislative action on H R 5 in the 104th Congress in 1995 resulted in the, “Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995”,(UMRA), the aim of which was to restrict the practice of inflicting unfunded Federal mandates on States and local governments and provide for Federal Government to pay the costs that are incurred by States while complying with the requirements of statutes and regulations of the central Government.
This is also deemed to include costs incurred in providing information of Federal mandates to the private sector and for other purposes. The Act thus seeks compensation for states arising from matters concerning federal mandates. Support of this act would deem to indicate sustainment of the primary thesis of conservatives providing greater support for state independence and liberals being in favor of the federal government. Text of legislation There is a need to specifically study the text of the legislation including its purposes and exceptions.
The purpose of the legislation has been indicated as manifold. The main aim, as is normal in cases of state versus federal jurisdictions is to strengthen the compact between the Federal Government and States, local governments, and tribal governments. Given this aspect there is no reason to believe that there should be any resistance to this legislation as it is the constitutional obligation of all elected representatives to support state – federal relationship.
The other purpose stated is to end the burden imposed on states, local governments and tribal governments from Federal mandates which displace their priorities and which do not have the full consideration of the Congress. This is a significant purpose from the point of view of the hypothesis under examination for it seeks to end the imbalance which may be caused due to federal imposition on state and local government. Thus support of this legislation will imply that state is being favored vis a vis the federal government.
The other stated purpose is also to assist the Congress, in considering proposed legislations for establishing or revising Federal programmes which comprise of Federal mandates affecting states, local government, tribal governments and the private sector by providing information about the nature and size of mandates in the proposed legislation and a mechanism to bring forth this information to the attention of the Senate and House of Representatives before, it votes on the proposed legislation.
This too provides a very favorable outlook for protecting interests of states as full information of its impact on states is sought before a federal legislation affecting the state is brought into force. This is a binding feature which will enable legislators to seek full information on a large many acts if put forth before the Senate and the House of Representatives given the nature of legislations in a federal formation as that of the United States of America.
The other stated purposes include promotion of informed and deliberate decisions by the Congress on the suitability of Federal mandates in any specific instance and to establish point of order vote on the considerations in the Senate and House of Representatives of legislation which has major Federal mandates. It is also designed to assist Federal agencies while considering proposed regulations which affect the states, local and tribal governments, to have a process to enable the elected and other officials of these bodies to provide inputs when Federal agencies are developing such regulations.
Federal agencies are also required to prepare and consider the budgetary impact of the regulations of Federal mandates as these will affect the local and state governments. The agencies of the Federal government are to be enjoined to ensure that small governments are given special consideration in the process. This again is in favor of the local governments what ever their form be and imposes on federal agencies the burden of providing adequate information to these bodies before any legislation is moved especially affecting their fiscal powers or resources.
There is strong support for small governments in particular. The final purpose is to establish a general rule that Congress does not impose any federal mandates on states, local governments and tribal governments without providing adequate funding for them to follow these mandates. Thus any support of this legislation can be considered in general as an ideological leaning towards states in the state-federal dyad. Perhaps the limitations given in the Act may provide a holistic projection of its impact.
The Act is not to be applied to any provision in a Federal statute or a proposed or final federal regulation which impinges on the constitutional rights of an individual or it establishes or enforces any statutory rights that proscribe discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, or challenged or disability. It also requires for compliance procedures in terms of accounting and auditing procedures with respect to grants and other money or property which has been provided by the Federal government.
The provision of emergency assistance is covered in the limitations which are quite natural considering the likely exceptional circumstances which should not restrict or limit its applicability. A final limitation is that of national security and the ratification for compliance of an international treaty as well as the emergency legislation of the President which has been included as a statute by the Congress.
While these limitations have been included in the Act, these in no way can be construed to be providing the Federal government exceptional powers over state and other authorities in the normal course and are only applicable when individual liberties are likely to be infringed or an emergency arises. Thus despite the limitations, state authorities continue to find favor in the Act. There were 172 Co Sponsors to this Act which was led by Rep. William F. Clinger, Jr. , Rep.
Rob Portman, Rep. Gary A. Condit, and Rep. Thomas M. Davis, who were all Republicans. 172 Co Sponsors in a house of 434 members represents strong legislative support of approximately 40 percent for the Act which could be considered as virtually apriori indication of its approval. This includes four Democrat sponsors for this legislation which suggests some division in the ranks of democrats which may not be purely on ideological grounds given the small percentage involved.
While this strong support would have virtually guaranteed passing of this legislation in the Congress, the voting pattern will indicate that there was some resistance which was exclusively from the Democrats and one independent representing a total of 17 percent. This may establish that there are no doubt a percentage of liberals who are opposed to greater independence to states, though even within the liberal body their percentage is limited to approximately 35.
7 percent of the votes placed by Democrats. This decrees that this legislation has support by liberals as well and there may be grounds to believe that the support of liberals is issue based rather than based on ideologies. However there have been mixed reactions to the Bill which is considered by some as teeth less and difficult to implement. (Lund: 1995). A detailed quantitative analysis is being carried out with the help of tables below.
The voting pattern as given in Table 1 clearly establishes the hypothesis wherein it would be seen that, Republicans have overwhelmingly voted in favor of this Act with 230 votes or a hundred percent going in for the legislation seeking compensation for the states. The liberal vote is split, with 130 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation and 73 against with one democrat having not voted. A percentage evaluation is being carried out of the votes polled in Ayes and Nays by the two parties in Table 2.
It would be seen that 100 percent Republicans have voted for the legislation emphasizing the assumption of support of independence to the states. However the voting pattern of democrats can be seen to marginally challenge the assumption thus, as 63. 72 percent of the Democrats have voted in favor of the legislation, while 35. 7 percent have voted against it. This implies that there is substantial support amongst Democrats for providing compensation to states for Federal mandates which have been imposed against its interests.
The issue thus may need consideration in a different light, to see if the pattern of voting by the Democrats has been on a general agreement of principle of fair compensation to the states when it is felt that these have been biased due to a Federal mandate or is it that Democrats too favor state rather than federal support in their approach to state – federal relationship. If the percentage of votes of conservatives and liberals in the percentage of votes polled in Ayes and Nays is seen as in Table 3, there may be some general conclusions which could be arrived at.
The percentage of votes in Ayes is 63. 9, Republican and 36. 1 Democrats thus confirming the trend in Table 1 and 2. The overwhelming votes polled in Nays were that of Democrats, which if the single vote not polled is included will lead to conclude that while conservatives do not support federal authorities on issues of federal-state relationship, there may be some difference of ideology amongst the liberals, a percentage of whom may be supporting legislation on grounds which may not be related to specific ideological leanings but on local issues.
A summation of the issues covered in the analysis above will reveal that a study of the legislation as enacted including its limitations reveals that there is an overwhelming consideration of the rights of states, local governments and tribal governments in relation to these being infringed upon by the Federal government. The Act specifically proscribes such an event from taking place unless there is an emergency.
The Act also deems that adequate information has to be provided to the Congress before any enactment to the contrary is made. It provides for budgetary support to other bodies when any fiscal harm is caused. The overwhelming support as given out by the quantitative analysis will reveal that it has a total backing of the conservatives and a portion of liberals as well.
Thus the liberal vote could be considered as divided yet in favor of the state authorities over the centre of up to two thirds of the legislation. Suffice to say passing of the bill was welcomed by even President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. (Remarks of President: 1995). Thus it would be evident that ideological support for state independence from federal mandates has greater patronage of the conservatives than liberals. For any definitive conclusions another legislation is proposed to be examined.