Resizing the Federal Purse: Limits on the Spending Power and Their Meaning For Federal Grants to the States

Feb 22, 2012Feb 23, 2012
208 Senate - Capitol Visitors Center

Please join the Mercatus Center's Capitol Hill Campus for a Continuing Legal Education course on the age-old debate over what spending Congress is authorized to pursue under the U.S. Constitution. 

The 112th Congress is poised for another round in the on-going battle over federal spending. While the debate over higher deficits versus balanced budgets has intensified in recent years, they are rooted in a much older debate. The founding fathers had sharply contrasting positions on the scope of the congressional spending power under the U.S. Constitution.  

During this course, George Mason University law professor Nelson Lund will review the positions of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton on the Spending Power and will explore why this historic debate has real-time, real-world implications on how Congress uses federal spending to direct the actions of state governments and individuals.

Primary topics for this course include:

  • The ambiguities surrounding Congress’ power of the purse and how the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed those ambiguities. 
  • Questions that current jurisprudence raises about constitutional limits on Congress’ spending and regulatory powers. For example: Could Congress accomplish the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” through its power to tax and spend? Do the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid provisions indicate a need to reconsider the scope of congressional discretion to place conditions on federal grants to the states?
  • What does all this mean for the establishment and funding of federal grants to the states? 

This course is offered exclusively and at no cost to attorneys and counsels employed by Congress, federal government agencies and the Library of Congress. Food provided. Please RSVP on the right panel.

Please contact Jon Barrett at or 703-993-7729 if you have questions or need assistance with CLE credit. CLE Credit Information

This course has been approved for one (1) general CLE credit by the Kentucky Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Commission and the Virginia Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board.