This line (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) in the Constitution gives Congress power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states and with Indian tribes." It governs more than just the exchange of goods and services for money. It is also the basis by which Congress enacts social policy involving environmental, criminal and civil rights laws, and senators will likely ask about the candidate's views on it.
The Commerce Clause, which is Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, gives Congress the exclusive power to "regulate Commerceâ€¦ among the several States." Until the 1930s, Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause tended to be defined narrowly, making it difficult for the federal government to address national issues. Since at least 1935, the Commerce Clause has been broadly defined, and has been a principal basis for the reach and scope of the modern federal government. It has been interpreted to give Congress the constitutional authority to regulate not only interstate commerce, but also activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. Some recent case law, however, has limited this power, in a throwback to the pre-1930s view of the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause is the foundation for most federal environmental statutes. A narrowing of Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause, therefore, could limit the power of the federal government to protect the environment by setting and enforcing uniform national standards. (See also "Interstate Commerce").