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Ross K. Baker, a constitutional expert at Rutgers University, said any discussion is a good step, both for members of Congress and for the country more broadly.

“I think Americans in general are not really well-aware, and one of the things we owe to the tea party is bringing this question of just what the authority of Congress is to the public attention,” he said.

Still, he said there’s a real danger that the authority statements will become just another box lawmakers check off as they introduce bills.

“This has been a great, brief era of constitutional awareness. I think it’s a terrific thing, and I applaud it, but I fear it will recede into the gloomy depths of congressional process and simply be another element of the procedure.”