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Slaughtering the Constitution

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Posted on March 16 2010 11:06 am

House Democratic leaders are showing their true colors in their desperate fight to save Obamacare.  According to the Washington Post, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it, using a sleight of hand known as a self-executing rule or a “deem and pass.”  This latest ploy is the brain-child of House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, a member of the Progressive Caucus along with Pelosi.  What Slaughter has suggested is in fact a slaughter of the Constitution.

Under what has been called the Slaughter Rule, there would be no up-or-down vote that President Obama and his Congressional supporters have been demanding as justification for using another artifice – reconciliation – to overcome the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate.  The Slaugher Rule would declare that the House “deems” the Senate version of Obamacare to have been passed by the House without actually conducting a vote on the bill itself.  House members would vote only on whether to accept the rule, and avoid acountability for a direct vote on the bill’s content.

Following this rule vote, the House would then approve the reconciliation changes.  Obama would sign the Senate bill as is, even though the House did not vote to pass the bill itself (but only an internal House rule declaring the bill to be treated as if it were passed) and then the reconciliation changes would go to the Senate for passage and back to the President for signature.

Here is how Pelosi tried to explain the end-run :

It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know.  But I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.

Obviously, Pelosi and her Slaughter pack could not care less what the Constitution says, but a “deemed passed” House rule does not cut it.   Under Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, in order for a bill to be presented to the President for signature, the bill “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.”

Internal House rules are not bills and cannot be morphed into bills through parliamentary tricks.  This is especially true when it comes to bills that include provisions for raising revenue, since Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution says that all bills for raising revenue must “originate in the House of Representatives.”  The Senate may propose changes, as it did with the so-called Cadillac tax on insurance policies and increased payroll taxes for Medicare, but the House must pass those changes directly before the Senate bill can be sent to the President for signature.

If Pelosi tries to go forward with the Slaughter Rule, in order to duck accountability for an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill, Republicans should demand, as they are entitled to do under Article I, Section 5, the recording in the Congressional Journal of “Yeas and Nays” on the question of the content of the bill “deemed passed.”

One way or the other, those responsible for foisting the Obamacare monstrosity on the American people against their wishes must be held individually accountable.

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