Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee used obscure language to characterize the push for a clean resolution which would end the government shutdown, labeling it a form of "martial law." Advocating for the passage of a clean continuing resolution that would, at least temporarily, end the current standoff in Washington and reopen the government, Lee said there were enough members of Congress who would vote for the resolution.
"It's something called a continuing resolution, but it's a bill that you put on the floor that has been passed already by Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate....that we could vote on today," said Lee, adding, "We have martial law -- what that means -- and my colleagues know what it means -- is that you can put a bill on in just minutes."
The term "martial law" in a legislative context is somewhat obscure but it has been used before to define lawmakers' ability to "fast track" bills without going through the usual congressional process.
However, Lee's insistence that a Senate-approved resolution to fund the federal government be fast-tracked via "martial law" appears to conflict with Article I, Section 7, Clause I of the Constitution, which states, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives."
This clause was included by the founders to ensure that decisions related to the power of the purse reside with the legislative body which is closest to the American people.
The last time martial law was mentioned by a member of Congress was back in 2008 when Rep. Brad Sherman revealed how lawmakers were threatened with "martial law in America" by then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson if they rejected the TARP bailout package.