NOTE: As of Saturday, 3/20/10, 3pm Central Time, the House decided not to use the controversial “deem and pass” rule, but will (supposedly) hold an up or a down vote on both the Senate bill, and the separate amendments to the bill, but feel free to read this anyway–it could change!
I grew up watching the “Schoolhouse Rock!” series of mini-cartoons that used to be shown on Saturday mornings. In case you weren’t a kid in the 70’s or 80’s, they were short animated lessons in history, grammar, civics, science and math (set to music, of course) that came on in between all your favorite cartoons. One of the most memorable ones was “I’m Just a Bill”, featuring a character, Bill, who sang a catchy tune to tell kids how a bill becomes a law.
Try as I might, I don’t remember that little animated Bill singing a song with phrases like “reconciliation”, “back room deal”, “arm twisting”, “Slaughter rule”, or “deem and pass” in it.
However, in Washington in 2010, these are the kinds of shifty schemes that are just a normal part of the business day of our lawmakers—especially when it comes to cramming through an unpopular bill like the current health care fiasco. But, let nothing stop a power hungry group of elitists who think they know better than we do what’s best for all of us—not even the U.S. Constitution.
To start with, nowhere in the Constitution does it give the federal government the right to “re-distribute health”. Many constitutionally illiterate politicians claim they can do this under the general welfare clause, but this wasn’t the original intent of the founders. If it were, general welfare could refer to darn near anything that any rogue politician decided was necessary, making the government—not the people—all powerful. The Constitution was meant to place boundaries on Washington, so that it would not infringe on the rights of the states and the people. That is why it is so hated by President Obama, Nancy (“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it”) Pelosi, Harry Reid and others. They hate that it restricts them and empowers us.
Their disdain for this precious document is evident in their words and actions. Nancy Pelosi said, “We will do what is necessary to pass a health care bill.” Really, Nancy? Does that include not really passing it, but just saying that you did?
Yep. That’s what their latest deceptive plan is all about. The Senate version of the bill, which barely passed right before Christmas (and would not have passed without bribes), is deeply hated by many in Congress, who don’t want to vote for it unless there’s several adjustments made.
This is where it gets a little cumbersome. According to The Wall Street Journal,
“Under the ‘reconciliation’ process that began [Monday] afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill and then use ‘sidecar’ amendments to fix the things it doesn’t like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation. This alone is an abuse of traditional Senate process.”
From there it just keeps getting worse. Speaker Pelosi, not sure she has the votes to get the Senate version passed even with the promise of the fixes, always finds a way around the Constitution. Enter House Rules Committee chairman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), with the Slaughter Solution, or “deem and pass”, now increasingly becoming known on conservative websites as “Demon Pass”.
The appropriately named Slaughter wants to use this “self executing rule” to allow the Congress to vote only on the amendments, without actually voting on the Senate bill itself. Pelosi, always up for anything that will get her what she wants, likes the idea of using this tactic because it would allow some cover to reluctant Congressman because they wouldn’t really be voting on the bill they don’t like. What’s more, she sees more and more power in the future as she stated, “Once we kick this [health care bill] through the door, more legislation will follow.” Enough is never enough for these people.
This openly slaughters Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution that establishes the bicameral (2-house) nature of the legislative branch. It states, that in order for a bill to become a law, it must be voted on in BOTH the House and Senate: “But in all 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.” [emphasis mine].
Democrats claim that Republicans have used this time and time again, but that’s not actually the case. Never has this been used on such a massive bill that allows the government to completely re-structure one-sixth of the economy. The bill also includes a massive over-haul of how student loans for higher education will be made—the government plans to take over that too. Still believe this is all about health care?
So what does our president think of all this free and easy treatment of the document that used to be the Supreme Law of the Land? He told Fox News, “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the procedural rules in the House or Senate.”
Since the Constitution IS the procedure, think about what he’s really saying. In other words, he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Constitution, and that the ends justify the means. What’s worse, he thinks we think that way too. He and other Democrats this week have said that we the people only care about the end result, not how we get there.
When people end up in intensive care, sometimes they come out all right. Sometimes they’re never quite the same again. And sometimes—they never come out. What will be the fate of our Constitution?