Irreconcilable Differences-How Bad Politics Creates Bad Policy

An article published in this morning’s Wall Street Journal details the process some  house members are pursuing in order to pass the government-healthcare-industry-takeover bill proposed by the Senate.  “Under the “reconciliation” process that began yesterday afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill and then use “sidecar” amendments to fix the things it doesn’t like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation.”  As the article explains “[t]his two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a ‘Bill’ to ‘become a Law,’ it ‘shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.’ … As Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pointed out in these pages yesterday, ‘The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form …” thereby undermining senate rules, and flying in the face of the Constitution.  Of course, for the bill to become to become law, fifty one senators would still need to vote in favor of the amendments proposed by the House, which would require some to abandon both the Constitution and their ‘core beliefs’ in exchange for the Harry and Nancy’s good graces.

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