Free Markets, Free People

Congress: Making A Bad Idea Permanent

You have to hand to Harry Reid. His lack of respect for the Constitution is rather pedestrian by Democrat standards these days, but he is positively the Thomas Alva Edison of inventive ways to flout it:

If ever the people of the United States rise up and fight over passage of Obamacare, Harry Reid must be remembered as the man who sacrificed the dignity of his office for a few pieces of silver. The rules of fair play that have kept the basic integrity of the Republic alive have died with Harry Reid. Reid has slipped in a provision into the health care legislation prohibiting future Congresses from changing any regulations imposed on Americans by the Independent Medicare [note: originally referred to as “medical”] Advisory Boards, which are commonly called the “Death Panels.”

It was Reid leading the Democrats who ignored 200 years of Senate precedents to rule that Senator Sanders could withdraw his amendment while it was being read.


Section 3403 of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment requires that “it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” The good news is that this only applies to one section of the Obamacare legislation. The bad news is that it applies to regulations imposed on doctors and patients by the Independent Medicare Advisory Boards a/k/a the Death Panels.

Section 3403 of Senator Reid’s legislation also states, “Notwithstanding rule XV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, a committee amendment described in subparagraph (A) may include matter not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Finance if that matter is relevant to a proposal contained in the bill submitted under subsection (c)(3).” In short, it sets up a rule to ignore another Senate rule.

These provisions were pointed by Sen. Jim DeMint on the Senate floor last night:

Meh. It’s an old Constitution anyways, and it’s not like we’ve really been using it. Heck, I’ll bet most people don’t even know what’s in that old rag, and those are just ones in Congress.

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18 Responses to Congress: Making A Bad Idea Permanent

  • It’s not possible that this will pass the Supreme Court… is it?

    • These parliamentary procedural games in the
      ‘gentlemen’s club’ have been going on since day 1.  The ‘gag’ order on discussing slavery (discussing abolition thereof) being one example.  They prevented discussions, and thereby  legislation, by merely agreeing on having a rule, established by vote, on not discussing it.
      In this case the rule implies you can be ruled ‘out of order’ in trying to change or rescind this bit.
      This is just variations on the same ‘being polite’ theme.  I bet the rules say if you continue to act in a way that makes you ‘out of order’ in the House or Senate the Sgt at Arms can be instructed to  forcibly remove you.

  • I really still believe that this death care crappola will die in conference, or in a House vote.

    But if I am wrong – IF – I believe that with it the Demmies will be signing the death warrant for their majority in the Congress and for The Clown™ and His Maladministration.

  • “and those are just ones in Congress”, oh, here we completely disagree.  I don’t think a very significant percentage of the clowns in Congress or the Senate have bothered to read the Constitution at all, let alone knowing what’s in it.
    There aren’t that many people in the Elected Legislative branch, I suggest we take up a collection to buy the handy Constitutional pocket reference guide that is available, send 600 of them to Capitol Hill and the White House as a reminder, in case they need a little light reading for their trips to the “necessary”.  Unfortunately I think a fair number would use it to wipe their butts with while they were in there “doing the business of government”.

  • I don’t know that there’s a Constitutional issue there. The Senate can purport to bind itself all it wants – and the future Senate can likewise blithely ignore being notionally bound, with no repercussions.
    That’s kabuki, not a Constitutional issue.

    • Actually any such gag order, or rule, prohibiting legislation by prohibiting discussion (or even motion to consider)  is a violation of the 1st Amendment (clearly a significant number of our learned legislators, today and in the past, would disagree with me…).   Adams maintained that any such rule prohibiting discussion of any ‘odious’ subject that the Senate or House did not wish to discuss, for whatever reason, was a 1st Amendment violation.

      • The Constitution provides for each House to makes it’s own rules to bind it’s members, so it’s a stretch that the 1st amendment prevents them from doing so while actually in session.

        • Yes it does, but each house of Congress does so at the beginning of its term.  If the argument has any grip, it is that one particular Congress cannot bind future Congresses.

          Reid is, Constitutionally-speaking, capable of setting the rules for the Senate of this Congress.  IMO, it is an open question whether he can do so for the Senate of any future Congresses.

        • Which is probably the same argument used to create rules that say “we can’t talk about this” from the very beginning, and I understand your point.
          Do I violate it in my own house?  Well, not so much now that the boys have moved out, but I’ve been guilty of the “we aren’t going to talk about this!” declaration.  I understand any organization can be paralyzed by allowing someone who doesn’t like a law, bill, etc to harp on it, day, after day, after day without restraint.  Some people are very dogged in their determination.  But it can be used to great effect,and for ill purposes.  Discussion of slavery was a classic example for many years.  I come back to that I realize, again, and again, because it’s such a potent example of how a ‘rule’ that is not a law, agreed to by a collection of alleged gentlemen, for the purpose of making their ‘business’ function reasonably, can be used to enforce injustice.  But certainly future Senates can choose to ignore Dingy Harry’s rule, they are not bound unless they choose to bind themselves.

          • Its a hurdle against reversing this, regardless.
            You would have to get enough power in Congress to overturn the rule.  Probably a 2/3 majority if my recollection is correct.  So it would take 67 seats that wanted to undo this.
            If its challenged on the basis it doesn’t have the authority, look out for a fight.  Potentially a Constitutional one.  And right now the SC leans towards the Left/Statists (eg. Kelo).  Given the opportunity imagine what Obama could do with slanting the SC?   Anyway, drag it out there forever and then deny their authority over Congress.
            Its a stall tactic.  Doesn’t matter if its valid or not, reversible or not.

  • Dirty Harry will get his super majority rule.  Good luck in trying to have it enforced.

  • I’ll admit to not being a constitutional lawyer, nor great at reading legislative language, but if in fact this language that is being voted in by a simple majority, will require a 2/3 majority to override (amend or repeal those clauses) that seems like a problem.
    It seems there are three potential constitutional challenges:

    The above mentioned rule changes.
    A federal mandate that every citizen has health insurance, and an imposition of a penalty if you don’t.
    One state being exempted from paying for Medicaid when all other states have to pick up not only their own, but Nebraska’s tab.

  • Let’s face it.  Accountability it zero.
    They’ve learned to game the system.  Lately through what at first blush is seeming subtle or helpful campaign finance laws.  But through those laws they’ve made a relatively closed club of incumbents nearly impossible to dislodge.   An unknown can’t summon the resources to properly campaign within the allowed window.  And in effect they’ve given the Media, mostly the Old Media control over the campaign ball.