Slaughtering the Constitution

by Sal on March 15, 2010

in Election 2010,Health Care,Law,Politics

The Democrats released a 2,300 page “shell” bill from the budget committee yesterday.  The bill is actually one of the House versions of ObamaCare that had come out of the Education and Labor as well as the Ways and Means committee last year.  It wasn’t the final bill used for passage by the house, but was set aside in favor of the bill that ultimately passed.  The shell bill was introduced in order to provide a “legislative vehicle” for reconciliation that could be done quickly without the usual committee input.  The bill now goes to the rules committee, headed by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) who will substitute the text with the reconciliation instructions to the Senate, and likely the “Slaughter” rule, which will deem HR 3590, the Senate health care bill, to have been passed.  This is to insert a contingency provision to try to circumvent the process of having House members cast a vote on the hated Senate bill.  One pesky problem for the Democrats, however, is the Constitution:

But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.

Needless to say, if Pelosi thinks this is the best way to assure passage, it is what the House will try to do.  Even with this approach, there are no guarantees.  The Democrats still do not have the votes in the House, and even if it does pass in this fashion, the Senate may not be able to push it through reconciliation.  Regardless, they are playing with fire.  If they do somehow manage to push through ObamaCare this way, it opens up the door for the GOP to do the same thing.  The courts could very well overturn this, and even if they don’t, the GOP can “deem” ObamaCare to have been repealed once they retake congress, as part of any bill.  It will be very difficulty for Obama to veto every single bill if the GOP simply deems something to have been repealed.  In fact, the GOP could use this rule to undo a lot of failed Democrat policies.

That’s the problem with using wacky rule changes to push through your unpopular agenda, in that the other side will eventually use those same procedures against you.  I still believe that at the end of the day, this bill will not pass.  Yet even if it does, the high disapproval of the American people along with the breaking of the rules to ram this thing through will make it far easier to repeal than would have otherwise been possible.  The backlash from such a move alone will cause a major shifting of the electoral landscape in the Republicans favor, one that may take many years for the Democrats to recover from.

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