As reported in this blog on many occasions in the past year the “progressive left” has treated the United States Constitution with both disregard and disdain.
The President himself has said, “But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted.”
In so many words, the President, who is the leader of the Progressive Movement in America explains that the Constitution is a shackle that restrains the government from taking over our lives. NEWSFLASH, Mr. President that is what it is supposed to do.
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” — Patrick Henry
Back when they still taught U.S. history and Civics in high school, we learned about how the Constitution is the foundation of our republic. We also learned how the power of the government was balanced through the Executive, Legislative and Executive branches. These checks and balance were designed to “protect the citizens” from an out of control federal government.
Fast forward to the present and the healthcare reform debacle, fearing that the Democrats can not muster enough votes to pass the wildly unpopular bill they may have to resort to parliamentary tricks to pass the legislation.
Enter House Rules Committee Chair N.Y. Democrat Louise Slaughter, who has raised the idea that the Democrats use what is known as a “self-executing rule,” or a “hereby rule.” Using this technique the House would only vote on the corrections that they are proposing for the reconciliation phase. The normal process would be that the differences would be resolved in a conference committee after both houses had passed the identical bill. The “Slaughter Solution” as it has been dubbed would allow the House to pass the Senate bill and amend it at the same time.
Simply put, this would allow the original Senate bill to move through the House without the House actually voting on it. This creates a scenario where the Senate bill is deemed as passed by the House and they can move on to voting only on the “fixes”. This will allow them to send a bill to the President to sign. The bill that would be signed into law would be the original Senate bill and then the reconciliation process would begin. With a single vote the House would in effect vote for and against the same bill but even more importantly the recorded vote would only reflect a vote for or against the reconciliation language and not the original bill. Considering the embarrassing content of this bill, such as the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, federal funding for abortion and other special-interest bribes that were added to get it through the Senate, it is no wonder that most House members don’t want their names on it. Is that the kind of courage that Obama was talking about when he called for the up or down vote?
As many of us learned in high school, the Constitution clearly defines how a law must be passed. According to Michael McConnell, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, “Article I, Section 7, states in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “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”. This would indicate that the proposed “Slaughter Solution” is unconstitutional.
Remember that we are at this point for two reasons: 1) The Senate no longer has the votes to get a bill through the normal process, 2) The Senate parliamentarian has said, reconciliation is permitted only for bills that amend existing law, not for amendments to bills that have yet to be enacted. If Congress gets away with this they have in effect decided that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be a hybrid developed outside the parliamentary guidelines of Congress. At that point we have abandon one of the core checks and balances provided for in the Constitution.
As a point of clarification self-executing rules have been used before. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills”. However, never before have self-executing rules been used to elide a vote on an entire piece of legislation.
Here is a refresher for members of Congress on how a bill becomes a law:
We have finally entered a time in our history that our founders feared the most. The rules are being made up as we go. We now are faced with an ugly situation. The governed have spoke out against the proposed healthcare reform bill, the Democrats do not have the votes to pass it without tricks or bribes and worse yet we have a President who is unwilling to listen or start over. The bill is so indefensible that Mrs. Pelosi is no longer even trying to defend its’ merits, instead saying that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” WOW, they didn’t teach us that in Civics!
Remember, the Constitution says; No bill can become law unless the exact same text is approved by a majority of both houses of Congress.
Again according to Michael McConnell, “Senate rules protect against majoritarian overreach by allowing a determined minority to filibuster most types of legislation. The majority needs 60 votes to override a filibuster. One exception, adopted in 1974, is legislation that makes adjustments to spending or revenues to reconcile current law to a budget resolution that has passed Congress. These are called reconciliation bills, and they require only a majority vote”. The Healthcare Reform bill does not meet this standard.
Again quoting Michael McConnell, “To be sure, each House of Congress has power to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.” Each house can thus determine how much debate to permit, whether to allow amendments from the floor, and even to require supermajority votes for some types of proceeding. But House and Senate rules cannot dispense with the bare-bones requirements of the Constitution. Under Article I, Section 7, passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another… The constitutional rules in Article I are not just formalities. They ensure the democratic accountability of our representatives. Under Section 7, no bill can become law unless it is put up for public vote by both houses of Congress, and under Section 5 “the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question . . . shall be entered on the Journal.” The intent of this language is to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions by documenting it through the legislative process.
America, this has become the poster child for a government run amok. The consent of the governed no longer seems to matter. The dirty tricks, bribery and arrogance of some members of Congress is astonishing. Unfortunately, this bill so bad that the Democrats have sunk to a new low in their attempt to ram this through. The only way for Congress and our country to save face is to start over and break the bill into manageable pieces.
This the most significant piece of legislation in a generation. It must be treated as such. If this passes in its’ current form it will “fundamentally transform America” forever – and not for the better. It will push us to the brink of financial ruin, destroy the best healthcare system in the world and result in more job losses. We must “Kill the Bill”! We can not lose through tricks!
Wake up America! It is time to stop this bill once and for all.
Restore the Republic, Reject the Agenda of the Progressive Left!
“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government”. – James Madison.