October 9, 2009
Watching the Constitution Disappear
The President says the Constitution is defective, and now Senator Harry Reid is preparing the coup de grace.
Once Reid and Obama emerge from their transparent closed-door consultations on how to blend the two competing Senate Health Care bills, Senator Reid has a nifty parlor trick up his sleeve. The normal course of legislative events would be to debate and vote on the bill on the Senate floor, and then send the result to a House-Senate conference committee. The committee would then blend the final House and Senate bills into a product acceptable to both houses. Unfortunately for the citizens of the United States, that normal course of events in this case would allow too much time for discovery and discussion, and it might therefore result in the public learning too much about the future of their health care. Extended public inspection might even result in the bill not passing in the form desired by the President and his allies, or perhaps not passing at all.
The American people have consistently rejected the left's attempts over the past fifty years or more to impose their idea of health care reform, and might do so yet again if given enough time and information. For Obama and his fellow travelers, therefore, time and obfuscation are of the essence, so why let an annoying and "defective" piece of paper like the Constitution get in the way of spiking government health care home forever.
The plan to railroad Obamacare through was initially reported last week by Human Events and The Heritage Foundation, and has now been confirmed by Senator Reid's office. Here is Senator Reid's plan in a nutshell, from CNS News:
A senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told CNSNews.com that it is "likely" that Reid will use H.R. 1586-a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions-as a "shell" for enacting the final version of the Senate's health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.
Under the procedure, the substance of House Resolution 1586 would be removed and replaced with the entire Senate health care package. The maneuver would initially require the support of 60 senators to vote for cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1586 (i.e., end debate on the congressional procedure and move forward).
If Reid wins 60 votes, then debate begins on his health care package. Reid could then decide to block all amendments and attempt to get a vote on the entire package......If the House were to then vote on the bill as passed by the Senate without amending it, it could be sent directly to the president for his signature without going through a House-Senate conference committee and another round of votes in each chamber.
CNS has also reported that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) may be willing to go along with this scheme as long as the bill itself is acceptable to House Democrats. There remains significant disagreement among the House leadership, the Progressive Caucus and the House Blue Dogs on taxing medical benefits, cuts to Medicare and the shape of a public option, any of which could easily derail the Reid plan. However, once the fix is in, it is likely that the scent of a kill on the Health Care reform bill will be more than enough to get the votes needed. If Reid is unsuccessful with this plan the bill will have to go to conference, and Senate passage may need to be done via budget reconciliation. Despite the potential hurdles, Reid's plan looms as a quick and dirty solution to end the national debate on health care reform.
The rub here, and the reason Senator Reid has conjured up his little parlor trick, is the Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 7:
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.
Technically the amended bill will have originated in the House, in the same manner that a blank piece of House letterhead stationary originates in the House. This trick has apparently been used for expediency on past occasions, but the far-reaching and perhaps irreversible effects in this case, combined with the obvious intent to pull a fast one on America, lead one to question the respect for the American people exhibited by our so-called representatives, aka our elected royalty. Congress plans to employ a technicality to pay lip service to the Constitution, using the shell of a House bill to in effect make a hollow shell of the Constitution.
The fact that the United States Senate would consider resorting to this parliamentary trick in order to restructure the entire health care system in a manner that majorities of Americans do not support should send shivers down our spines. Good luck getting a doctor for that. They will be too busy treating twisted arms in Washington.