The next time you hear a "progressive" charge that Bush or Cheney warred on the Constitution, should you feel an uncontrollable urge to knee them in the groin, it will be understandable. The far left Obamiacs are about to try an another end run around democracy and the Constitution in order to pass the deeply unpopular Obamacare. The latest gambit:
House Rules Chairman Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) . . . is "prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill." She is reportedly considering putting forth a rule that would dictate that the Senate version of the bill is automatically passed through the chamber once the House passes a corrections bill making changes to it.
So can the Obamacare monstrosity be "automatically" passed by the House without an affirmative vote on the bill itself? That would seem to violate the Constitution.
True, both the House and the Senate are authorized to make their own rules per Article I, Section 5. But those rules cannot violate other explicit requirements in the Constitution. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution spells out the requirements for the passage of a Bill. "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; . . ." Over the past two centuries plus, that language has meant in practice that a bill cannot be presented to the President until there has been an affirmative vote on the language of a single bill. The use of the word "shall" would seem to make such vote a requirement.
True, I am not up to speed on the nuances of what would probably be a plethora of historical evidence that would relate to this question. But the plain language of the Constitution is what it is. You can rest assured that if the Slaughter plan is used to pass Obamacare, within moments someone will be filing a case in Court challenging it on Constitutional grounds. Other referendums on this tactic and the bill itself will be by by popular polling in November and then in 2012.
Update: From Yuval Levin at NRO:
Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it.