An Unconstitutional Solution
03/17/10 - PowerLine Blog by John Hinderaker
Democrats are attempting to pass ObamaCare healthcare "reform" with unconstitutional procedures. John Hinderaker explains and quotes clearly about the conflicts.
Michael McConnell is a law professor at Stanford and a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals:
[edited]: Senate rules protect a 41 vote minority by allowing it to block most types of legislation (a fillibuster). "Reconciliation bills" only make adjustments to spending or revenues, to reconcile current law to a new budget resolution, and they require only a majority vote.
Say the President signs the ObamaCare Senate bill into law. "Reconciliation" would permit Senate Democrats to change budget issues in that law with 51 votes. They could correct most offensive features, but maybe not the abortion provisions.
The Senate parliamentarian says reconciliation may only amend existing law. House Democrats must first pass the identical bill that passed the Senate, including the special deals, abortion coverage, and high taxes on expensive health-insurance plans.
The clever, but unconstitutional, Slaughter solution ignores basic fact. To become law, and eligible for amendment via reconciliation, the Senate bill must actually be signed into law.
The Constitution speaks directly to how a bill becomes a law. According to Article I, Section 7, a bill shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, and be presented to the President of the United States for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has passed both Houses, it cannot be presented to the President and cannot become a law.
Here is my summary. The Senate has passed ObamaCare. The House dislikes ObamaCare, but likes ObamaCare + Amend. What can the House do?
- Pass ObamaCare + Amend directly. But, it will not pass the Senate, because Republicans now have 41 votes (via Scott Brown) to block passage.
- Pass ObamaCare to become law. Also pass Amend and expect the Senate to approve. The Senate might pass Amend with 51 votes, or it might easily accept ObamaCare as-is, leaving the House Democrats hanging.
- The Slaughter trick. Pass Amend + Rule. The Rule says: When the Senate passes Amend, then the House automatically approves of ObamaCare.
- The Senate can't pass a reconciliation amendment to an ObamaCare law that doesn't yet exist.
- Congress can vote on laws. It can't vote on laws that automatically vote on other laws.
I want the actions of Congress to be deliberate, open, and understandable. Congress is not a computer program that writes rules to create other rules. That complexity would end any accountability.
The Health Care Debate: What is “Deeming”?
03/17/10 - Washington Watch by Jim Harper
A clear 900 word description of the procedures affecting passage of the massive healthcare overhaul called ObamaCare.
Cloture, The 60 vote rule, House passage of the Senate version, Reconcilliation, Senate promises to amend, Hiding a Yes vote, a Rule, a Self-Executing Rule, and Deeming it Passed.
Questions for Thoughtful ObamaCare Supporters - Part 3
03/16/10 - Cato@Liberty by Michael F. Cannon
What do the following facts mean to you? [edited]
- Pharmaceutical-industry lobbyists are meeting with House Democrats behind closed doors to write this legislation. They are preparing to spend millions of dollars on advertisements to support the legislation.
- A former federal judge: Under Article I, Section 7, passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another.
- Speaker Pelosi says of her proposed “deeming” strategy: I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill. Pelosi once opposed this same strategy in a court of law.
- The Washington Post editorializes: The Democrats’ endgame seems “dodgy” and “threatens to turn into something unseemly and contrary to Democrats’ promises of transparency and deliberation”.