The recently proposed “Slaughter Rule” specifies that the House can pass a Senate bill as well as a bill amending it, with one vote. The Senate then votes only on the amendatory bill relayed from the House. After this process, the bill is declared as passed. However, this means that the House and the Senate wouldn’t have passed the same bill, which as critics are beginning to point out, is a legislative requirement, as stipulated in the Constitution. On account of this criticism, this “Slaughter Rule” named after House Rules Committee Chairman, Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), is being deemed as an unconstitutional legislative tactic. Given the constitutional questions that have been recently raised regarding Democratic supported policies such as the individual health care mandate, it comes as no surprise that many Democrats are once again looking to subvert constitutional language.
Regarding these constitutional questions over the Slaughter Rule, Politico reports:
The so-called “Slaughter solution” for enacting health care reform without a conventional House vote on an identically worded Senate bill would be vulnerable to credible constitutional challenge, experts say.
Furthermore, Politico comments on the root of this criticism by stating:
The constitutional questions about the process intensified Monday thanks to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by former U.S. appeals court judge Michael McConnell, now a professor at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
In defense of his firm stance on the unconstitutionality of using the Slaughter Rule, McConnell writes the following in The Wall Street Journal:
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.
McConnell further strengthens his judgment by alluding to a past Supreme Court verdict that restricted precisely what the Slaughter Rule is seeking to do. McConnell writes:
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.”
In defense of the U.S. Constitution, McConnell writes:
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.”
The fact that many individuals, including a former U.S. appeals court judge, are now challenging the constitutionality of the upcoming legislative enactment process of Obamacare 2.0, should make us question the accountability of Congress. It is important that our federally elected officials work to preserve our freedoms, as well as our Constitution. Unfortunately, given the size and scope of the currently pending health care bill, as well as the procedure that Congress claims they would use to amend it, it seems that Congress is instead, working to jeopardize our freedoms and disregard the language of our Constitution.
Join our vigilant fight against the passage of Obamacare 2.0 via reconciliation, by signing our petition at NoHealthcareReconiliation.com. Also, I would encourage you to check out our Obamacare 2.0 war room, and to read our recently released Key Vote: Stop Slaughter Scheme.
FreedomWorks Letter to Congress in Support of Fiscal Commision Act (H.R. 5779)