House Republicans Have Forgotten How A Bill Becomes A Law
House Republicans engaged in a publicity stunt on Friday that displayed a profound misunderstanding of how government actually works in the United States.
Yesterday, on a nearly party line vote, the House Of Representatives passed a bizarre piece of legislation that purports to say that if the Senate fails to act on passing a FY2011 budget resolution, then the version passed by the House will have the full effect of law:
The House narrowly passed legislation on Friday that calls for a House-passed FY 2011 spending bill to become law should the Senate fail to approve a spending bill by April 6. It would also prevent members of Congress from being paid during a government shutdown.
The bill, H.R. 1255, was approved over bitter Democratic opposition in a 221-202 vote in which no Democrats supported it, and 15 Republicans opposed it.
Several Democrats argued that the measure is unconstitutional, charging that it would “deem” that the 2011 spending bill, H.R. 1, has the force of law if the Senate fails to act. Some Democrats seized on the floor comments from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who broke with his party and said on the floor that this aspect of the bill “violates my conscious and the Constitution, and I cannot vote for it.”
Republicans voting “no” were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Richard Hanna (NY), Walter Jones (NC), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Reid Ribble (Wis.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and James Sensenbrenner (Wis.). Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) was the only member of the House to vote “present.”
The opponents of H.R 1255 are, of course, absolutely correct. One chamber of Congress cannot declare a piece of legislation to be law without the consent of the Senate and the President. In fact, as Ed Morrissey notes, the answer to this question can be found in the very Constitution that House Republicans have proclaimed is so important to them:
Section 7 – Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto
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.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. 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. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Or, if that’s too hard for Boehner, Cantor and the others to understand, they can just watch this video:
You’ll remember, of course, that the GOP started off the 112th Congress with a reading of the Constitution, including Article 1 Section 7 noted above, and also said the following in their Pledge To America:
We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
This is unequivocally one of the silliest pieces of legislation I’ve seen in quite some time, and it’s ironic that the party that campaigned in 2010 on adherence to the Constitution would attempt to violate it in such a stupid manner.