Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Support And Defend The Constitution of The United States

Congressional Responsibility... not intended to be an oxymoron.

If you've been paying attention to the news recently, it should come as no shock that Democrats in congress are considering passing the Senate version of the 'health care reform' bill without voting on it. It seems to me that this is at odds with not only the oath of office, but the very Constitution itself.
Article I Section VII of the United States Constitution (excerpted):
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
Congressional Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
So, how then do Democrats propose getting around the constitutional requirement?
Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers "deem" the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic -- known as a "self-executing rule" or a "deem and pass" -- has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill.
It's a tactic that has been used by both parties and having been reviewed by the court is considered constitutional. However, guess who took the case to court, petitioning against the self-executing rule? Funny you should ask:
But put aside the present for the moment and step into my time machine. Dial the date selector back to 2005 when the Republican majority in Congress approved a national debt limit increase using a self-executing rule similar to the Slaughter Solution.

Guess who went to federal court to challenge the constitutionality of the move? The Ralph Nader-backed Public Citizen legal activists.


And now for the kicker, guess who joined Public Citizen in that suit with amicus briefs:

Nancy Pelosi

Henry Waxman

Louise Slaughter
It's important to point out that there is a fundamental difference between what the Democrats are attempting now, and what the court ruled on in the case mentioned above. At issue was a text correction to a bill which had been passed through congress. The GOP attempted to use the self-executing rule to confirm the correction of the text, without having to vote on the amendment. Again, the legislation went on to be voted upon by the entire body when the GOP attempted to use the procedure. Not so with the Democrats:
It's important to be clear that the issue before the court was whether a minor text correction was sufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirement that both chambers of Congress must pass the exact same bill. In this 2005 case, the court ruled the minor correction was acceptable.

The deeming of an entire bill to have been passed without a prior recorded vote goes far beyond a minor text correction, so the constitutional principle clearly would be violated by the Slaughter Solution.

The Slaughter Solution is unconstitutional and should be challenged on such grounds. As the Democrats are fond of reminding us, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. Congress is required to vote on legislation: fact.

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