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March 10, 2010

Constitutional Slaughter: Democrats Attempting Rule Change in House That Would Pass Senate Bill Without An Actual Vote on the Senate Bill

Bizarre, and would, I imagine, almost immediately be undone by the Supreme Court.

Guess what? The Supreme Court requires that bills actually be voted on to, you know, become laws. You can't make up some absurd rule that says a bill has been voted on when in fact it has not.

But that is precisely what they're attempting.

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.

Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.

Slaughter has not taken the plan to Speaker Pelosi as Democrats await CBOscores on the corrections bill. "Once the CBO gives us the score we'll spring right on it," she said.

[. . .]

House members are concerned the Senate could fail to approve the corrections bill, making them nervous about passing the Senate bill with its much-maligned sweetheart deals for certain states.

"We're well beyond that," Pelosi said Tuesday, though she did not clarify.

They're doing this, I think, to escape the rule that if the Senate bill is passed with changes or alterations the bill must be re-voted on in the Senate, which would invoke the filibuster. So they're trying to create some bizarre new "rule" that says "We're making changes to this law, and passing it with those changes, but we're counting it as 'not changed.'"

Um, you can't do that. If the bill is changed, it is not the same bill voted on by the Senate.

Thanks to AtaLien.

Let Me Try to Explain... to myself.

I think this starts from the fact that the House doesn't trust the Senate to reconcile anything. So what they'd like to do is change the bill so that the Senate has to accept the House changes.

The problem with that is if they change the Senate bill, the Senate can't use reconciliation. A changed bill is a new bill, and that is subject to filibuster.

So what they're trying to do is pass a bill which includes 1) changes to the Senate bill and 2) some kind of clause stating that "if these changes pass, the bill we're trying to change also passes." And what they're claiming then is that the Senate bill would be self-executing; it would vote for itself, or something. It would be "constructively passed" if the changes are passed.

And so they are doing this to accomplish two fundamentally irreconcilable goals:

1) Pass the Senate bill without changes so that the Senate can use reconciliation.

2) Pass the Senate bill with changes so that the Senate bill can't pass without those changes.

But if a bill is changed, it gets voted on again by the Senate. You cannot change this by "rule" -- this is a Constitution-level thing. Obviously, all legislation must be voted for by House and Senate; the Constitution says so. You cannot claim that a bill "automatically passes" by voting on some other matter. You cannot claim that you're passing a changed bill for one purpose but an unchanged bill for another purpose. Either it's changed or it's not; either it requires a new vote by the Senate or it doesn't.

This is the typical nonsense desperate leftists try. If you can't do it by the rules, change the rules, and rely on the media to pretend what you've done is perfectly reasonable.

In fact, it would undo a good third of how our constitutional system operates. Suddenly we'd be in a brave new world where House and Senate merely have to to pass "similar" bills for those bills -- often conflicting and contradictory -- to become our new "law."

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