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Chris van Hollen’s memo to Democrats describes how the U.S. Constitution will be shredded this week; the “Slaughter Rule” is a go

posted at 6:49 pm on March 14, 2010 by

The detestable menace Chris van Hollen (D-MD) sent out the following memo to House Democrats earlier today.

TODAY or MONDAY: CBO will publish final scores on legislative language

THEN: House Budget Committee must approve using the reconciliation process to pass this

THEN: The bill will go to the Rules Committee, rule will be constructed for consideration on the floor, and language will be posted online (on the Rules website) and the 72-hour clock will start. When this happens, we will start to have a better idea on what the process will be.

THEN: A Manager’s Amendment will be constructed that will make some final changes

THEN: The Manager’s Amendment will be posted online and the 72-hour clock will start (this may overlap with the 72-hour clock on the reconciliation language). When Manager’s Amendment is done final process decisions will be locked in.

THIS MEANS: We will likely vote Friday or Saturday. (As you probably saw, POTUS pushed back the departure for his Asian trip from Thursday the 18th to Sunday the 21st; this was not a coincidence.) The Speaker has publically committed to trying to get a vote on both the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill on the same day. They are still trying to work out the final process on this and much of what we do depends on what the Senate Parliamentarian decides. You may be receiving calls about the “Slaughter Rule” and other rumors about what the process will be. Again, please understand: no decision has yet been made on the process for consideration on the House floor.

Of course a decision has been made. We’re hours away from Slaughter revealing the strategy and Democrats have no other mechanism to pass a bill other than using an extra-Constitutional procedure. They don’t have the votes to pass the Senate Bill, so they are — for the first time in U.S. history — about to rule that they actually passed a bill they never voted on.

On Fox News Sunday, van Hollen suggested that the Slaughter Rule was still a major component of the Democrats’ plans.

Van Hollen responded to [Rep. Eric] Cantor by saying that “we are going to have an up or down vote, whether it is going to be on the Senate bill or a procedure that will include passage of the Senate bill recognizing that we are amending the Senate bill.” An up or down vote on a procedure is not an up or down vote on a bill. Van Hollen was quick to attempt a shift away from this procedural debate, but Cantor brought the discussion back to this questionable procedure.

Earlier today, the Heritage Foundation reported the aptly-named “Slaughter Rule” is a done deal.

The Budget Committee will meet Monday to start marking up a shell of a Reconciliation Bill. The Rules Committee will then meet as early as Wednesday to hollow out whatever the Budget Committee passed and then insert a new bill from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. The Majority is still planning to use the “Slaughter Rule” that would allow the House to pass the Senate health care bill without voting on it. Final votes are expected to stretch into the weekend.

That is why Tuesday is such an important milestone. If you have any way to get to the Capitol Building, join the march to stop the slaughter of the U.S. Constitution.

Hat tip: Heartland.

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Mark Levin – Get ready to file against these treasonous bastards.

Yellowdog12 on March 14, 2010 at 7:43 PM

I remain optimistic (and I’m a pessimist at heart) this will not go the distance. It means a split down the middle I don’t think even most of these morons want to see.

WitchDoctor on March 14, 2010 at 7:50 PM

Is there no legal recourse? I imagine a court challenge, but that should not stop us from screaming bloody murder.

toliver on March 14, 2010 at 7:55 PM

People (Republicans in the House, along with any decent Democrats – ha) must immediately be calling for the resignation and ouster of Democrats who go along with this.

Guys, if this happens, and the courts don’t throw it out, this is *over*. Waiting for elections won’t mean a damned thing.

Midas on March 14, 2010 at 8:01 PM

Democratic congressional leaders have floated a plan to enact health-care reform by a procedure dubbed “the Slaughter solution.” It is named not for the political carnage that it might inflict on their members, but for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, who proposed it. Under her proposal, Democrats would pass a rule that deems the Senate’s health-care bill to have passed the House, without the House actually voting on the bill. This would enable Congress to vote on legislation that fixes flaws in the Senate health-care bill without facing a Senate filibuster, and without requiring House members to vote in favor of a Senate bill that is now politically toxic.

The Slaughter solution cannot be squared with Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution.

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.

Last Christmas Eve, the Senate approved a health-care bill by 60 votes, overcoming a Republican filibuster. This is the bill that contains the so-called Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, taxes on high-cost health insurance plans and coverage for abortions. Virtually no one now supports that version of the bill, but Senate Democrats no longer have enough votes to pass an alternative bill under ordinary procedures.

That is where reconciliation fits in. If the House passes the Senate bill and the president then signs it into law, reconciliation would permit Congress to pass new legislation making changes to that law. Reconciliation might not solve the abortion coverage problem or other nonbudgetary issues, but it would allow Democrats to correct most of the Senate bill’s offensive features.

The rub is that, according to the Senate parliamentarian, reconciliation is permitted only for bills that amend existing law, not for amendments to bills that have yet to be enacted. This means that, for the Senate to be able to avoid a filibuster, House Democrats first have to vote for the identical bill that passed the Senate last Christmas Eve. That means voting aye on the special deals, aye on abortion coverage, and aye on high taxes on expensive health-insurance plans. Challengers are salivating at the prospect of running against incumbents who vote for these provisions.

Enter the Slaughter solution. It may be clever, but it is not constitutional. To become law—hence eligible for amendment via reconciliation—the Senate health-care bill must actually be signed into law. The Constitution speaks directly to how that is done. According to Article I, Section 7, 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.

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 Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the “exact text” must be approved by one house; the other house must approve “precisely the same text.”

These constitutional rules set forth in Article I are not mere exercises in formalism. 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.” These requirements enable the people to evaluate whether their representatives are promoting their interests and the public good. Democratic leaders have not announced whether they will pursue the Slaughter solution. But the very purpose of it is to enable members of the House to vote for something without appearing to do so. The Constitution was drafted to prevent that.

Monday’s Wall Street Journal

Mr. McConnell is a professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He formerly served as a judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wethal on March 14, 2010 at 8:26 PM

toliver, the “legal recourse” is to vote the bastards out of office.

Steven Den Beste on March 14, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Constitutional Law scholars can check me on this, but I have two questions.
First. This appears to me to be outright treason, as in the deliberate subversion of our form of government. I make no prediction as to how widely that net might cast, but “High crimes and misdemeanors” seems to fit quite well.
So? Not so?

Second. This is the exact circumstance that the framers envisioned when they gave us the second amendment. If these fascist vermin actually pull this off, then our Constitution is well away to being a dead letter. That being so, it is possible that the tree of liberty must be nourished in the traditional fashion.

-DH

Dark Horse on March 14, 2010 at 11:16 PM

If things continue upon their present course, we may be witnessing the end of our beloved Republic. :(

Theophile on March 15, 2010 at 12:04 AM

If things continue upon their present course, we may be witnessing the end of our beloved Republic.

Theophile on March 15, 2010 at 12:04 AM

It’s been over.

uknowmorethanme on March 15, 2010 at 8:47 AM

I want to know wh is ytelling Pelosi and Slaughter that it IS constitutional to do this. They must be getting legal advice from someone on this, as neither is a constitutional expert. It’s time to do some digging and find out. Who are the legal counsels to the Rules Committee and other Democratic leaders? What interpretation of the Constitution have they developed that they think allows Pelosi to do this? These people are dangerous traitors and we must find out who they are.

rockmom on March 15, 2010 at 9:03 AM

When the precedent deems himself a constitutional scholar, then he is by fiat. Laws do not apply to “lightworkers”, and certainly no past president has been as lightweight as The Won is.

notanobot on March 15, 2010 at 10:01 AM

It seems like we need a second revolution to throw off the chains of the tyranny of a government that has chosen to ignore the constitution and the will of the governed.

Daggett on March 15, 2010 at 11:43 AM

THIS MEANS: We will likely vote Friday or Saturday. (As you probably saw, POTUS pushed back the departure for his Asian trip from Thursday the 18th to Sunday the 21st; this was not a coincidence.) The Speaker has publically committed to trying to get a vote on both the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill on the same day.

Just called Congressman Travis Childer’s office (my rep), and the woman who answered the phone told me that Rep. Childers is waiting for the final language on the Senate reconciliation bill before he decides. I asked her if she knew when that would be and she said “no”. I asked her if she heard reports that both bills were to be voted on Friday and she said “no, that is not true”. I asked her if the bill released today was the bill that would be voted on and she said “no”. So, Childers is still undecided, but I have a BAD feeling that he just might vote for this thing. His Tupelo office is not answering the phone (never happened before), and in past calls, I have always been told that Rep. Childers could not vote for the legislation in its current form. An absolute, COULD NOT VOTE. Now, it’s a MAYBE. UGH.
I also told her that Mr. Childers’ constituents did not like ANY version of health care reform as currently proposed and that a vote “yes” from him not only meant a “no” vote from me come November, but would create an enthusiastic-door-knocker-fund-raiser for his opponent.

MississippiMom on March 15, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I just contacted my rep, Cong. Minnick (D-ID) and was told by one of his staffers that he did not support the bill. I also wrote him an email and told his staffer that he needs to stop the “Slaughter Rule” and explained that it was unconstitutional. In my view, anyone who goes along with this is a traitor, and needs to be removed from office. We need to let these critters know loud and clear that they are toying with the seeds of revolution and they will be held accountable.

jdawg on March 15, 2010 at 6:52 PM