Democrats eliminated a long-standing rule that allows the minority party to alter legislation on the floor before a vote. Speaker Pelosi and her caucus feared that continuing a practice known as a “motion to recommit” would allow the GOP to force Democrats to cast votes on controversial issues that may hurt them politically in the next election. This fear is even more acute for many moderate members given the rise of the party’s radical progressive wing.
Notably, Republicans never made a similar move when they held the majority. “This is a right that has been guaranteed to the minority for well over a century,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “With today’s changes, the majority is seeking to silence views they are afraid of.”
Next up, Democrats essentially scuttled a requirement that legislation which increases the deficit be offset with cuts elsewhere. With deficits soaring regardless of which party controls what, the mandate was clearly ineffective. Yet the symbolism here is obvious and will allow Democrats to offer budget-busting legislation on a wide array of dangerous progressive priorities without concern for the long-term fiscal ramifications.
“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
Andrew C. McCarthy delivers a nice history lesson on why the framers accorded the House of Representatives the power of the purse and then explains why that power both can and should to be applied to defund Obamacare.
Letâ€™s move directly to the 1787 convention in Philadelphia.
One of the major challenges confronting the delegates was to broker the competing claims of small and large states. As Franklin summarized, â€œIf a proportional representation takes place, the small States contend that their liberties will be in danger. If an equality of votes is to be put in its place, the large States say their money will be in danger.â€ This resulted, of course, in the great compromise: equality among states in the Senate and proportional representation (by population) in the House. But this arrangement was inadequate to quell the large statesâ€™ fears; it was also necessary to tinker with the powers assigned to the two chambers. As Franklin put it, the Senate would be restricted generally in all appropriations & dispositions of money to be drawn out of the General Treasury; and in all laws for supplying that Treasury, the Delegates of the several States shall have suffrage in proportion to the Sums which their respective States do actually contribute to the Treasury [emphasis added].
When the Origination Clause was specifically taken up, a spirited debate ensued, with some delegates protesting against restrictions on the Senate. According to Madisonâ€™s records, however, what â€œgenerally prevailedâ€ was the argument of George Mason:
The consideration which weighed with the Committee was that the 1st branch [i.e., the House of Representatives] would be the immediate representatives of the people, the 2nd [the Senate] would not. Should the latter have the power of giving away the peopleâ€™s money, they might soon forget the source from whence they received it [emphasis added]. We might soon have an Aristocracy.
Masonâ€™s concerns seem prescient in our era of mammoth national government presided over by an entrenched ruling class of professional politicians. He worried that
the Senate is not like the H. of Representatives chosen frequently and obliged to return frequently among the people. They are chosen by the Sts for 6 years, will probably settle themselves at the seat of Government, will pursue schemes for their aggrandizement. . . . If the Senate can originate, they will in the recess of the Legislative Sessions, hatch their mischievous projects, for their own purposes, and have their money bills ready cut & dried, (to use a common phrase) for the meeting of the H. of Representatives. . . . The purse strings should be in the hands of the Representatives of the people.
Yes, the purse strings, not just the power to tax. Concededly, the Origination Clause speaks of bills â€œfor raising revenue.â€ In selling the Constitution to the nation, though, it was portrayed as securing in the hands of the peopleâ€™s representatives the power of the purse. It is an empty power if spending is not included.
The relevant paragraph in Madisonâ€™s Federalist No. 58 is worth quoting in full (all italics mine):
A constitutional and infallible resource still remains with the larger states by which they will be able at all times to accomplish their just purposes. The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse â€” that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.
To my mind, what Madison describes unquestionably transcends taxing authority. I believe a â€œcomplete and effectual weapon . . . for obtaining a redress of every grievanceâ€ must give â€œthe immediate representatives of the peopleâ€ the power to block funding for a government takeover of health care that was enacted by fraud and strong-arming; that was adamantly represented not to be the tax that the Supreme Court later found it to be; and that is substantially opposed by the people, and has been since its enactment.
They saved your right to continue to use Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulbs if you so choose. We won’t all have to sit in our living rooms bathed in the Orwellian florescent glare of the over-priced alternative bulbs favored by devotees of the modern cult of Gaia.
The shutdown-averting budget bill will block federal light bulb efficiency standards, giving a win to House Republicans fighting the so-called ban on incandescent light bulbs.
GOP and Democratic sources tell POLITICO the final omnibus bill includes a rider defunding the Energy Department’s standards for traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient.
DOE’s light bulb rules â€” authorized under a 2007 energy law authored signed by President George W. Bush â€” would start going into effect Jan. 1. The rider will prevent DOE from implementing the rules through Sept. 30.
But Democrats said they could claim a “compromise” by adding language to the omnibus that requires DOE grant recipients greater than $1 million to certify they will upgrade the efficiency of their facilities by replacing any lighting to meet or exceed the 2007 energy law’s standards.
Fueled by conservative talk radio, Republicans made the last-ditch attempt to stop federal regulations from making their way into every Americans’ living room.
“There are just some issues that just grab the public’s attention. This is one of them,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). “It’s going to be dealt with in this legislation once and for all.”
Our self-appointed lords and masters on the left were not pleased.
White House… communications director Dan Pfeiffer [was] saying Wednesday that the House GOP plan would “undercut environmental protections.”
On Twitter, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) wrote: “I strongly oppose that language. I hope it’s deleted from any final bill that we pass.â€
“This is just another poke in the eye,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
In 2010, the Democrats passed ObamaCare by a 7 vote margin. In 2011, the Republicans passed the bill to repeal ObamaCare with a 55 vote margin.
Three out of four democrats voting for repeal were members of the 26 member Blue Dog Coalition: Dan Boren (2-OK), Mike McIntyre (7-NC), and Mike Ross (4-AR). Larry Kissel (8-NC), who also voted for repeal, is not a member.
When journalists diffidently inquired a few months back about the Constitutional basis for mandated health insurance purchases, the response of democrat party Solons typically varied between blank incomprehension and clear indignation at the effrontery of anyone suggesting that any kind of limits on their power might exist.
Walter Olson remarks on a recent demonstration for the need of remedial high school civics lesson for US senators.
Last Tuesday, despite warnings of regulatory overreach, the Senate voted 73-25 in favor of S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, which would greatly expand the powers of the federal Food and Drug Administration and impose extensive new testing and paperwork requirements on farmers and food producers. Almost at once, however, the bill was derailed â€” whether temporarily or otherwise remains to be seen â€” by what the New York Times called an â€œarcane parliamentary mistakeâ€ and the L.A. Times considered a purely â€œtechnical flawâ€œ. Roll Call put it more bluntly: â€œ[Senate] Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.â€ While the New York Times weirdly cast Senate Republicans as the villains in the affair, other news sources more accurately reported that it was the (Democratic) House leadership that was standing up for its prerogatives:
â€œUnfortunately, [the Senate] passed a bill which is not consistent with the Constitution of the United States, so we are going to have to figure out how to do that consistent with the constitutional requirement that revenue bills start in the House,â€ [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer said.
According to Hoyer, this has happened multiple times this Congress, causing severe legislative angina.
â€œThe Senate knows the rule and should follow the rule and they should be cognizant of the rule,â€ Hoyer scolded. â€œNobody ought to be surprised by the rule. It is in the Constitution, and you have all been lectured and we have as well about reading the Constitution.â€
To those familiar with the history of the U.S. Constitution, the Origination Clause should hardly count as arcane or technical. It stands as the very first sentence of Article I, Section 7: â€œAll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.â€ …
With its two-year terms of office and less populous constituencies, the House of Representatives was of course designed to be the legislative branch closest to the people, most readily thrown out of office when it strays from the public mood. Those considerations aside, the Constitution is rightly celebrated for the way its framers made the House and Senate different from each other precisely in order to ensure jealousies and dissensions between the two, those jealousies and dissensions serving as a safeguard against hasty or ill-considered legislation. In this case it worked exactly as planned, and the self-regard of the House leadership will serve as the reason for another round of scrutiny for a bill that could badly use some. Somewhere up above the spirit of James Madison may have heard the scolding words of Rep. Hoyer, and smiled.
Things, of course, are not really different among House democrats either. Remember Alcee Hastings’ analysis of the legal dynamic behind the operations of American government?
70 House democrats (really 69, since Robert Wexler, 19-FL, resigned in January in order to accept a lucrative position heading up a marvelously well-funded, pro-Palestinian Jewish organization) belong to the Democratic Socialists of America. “Democratic Socialist” is a term of art for you-know-what. (Hint: Begins with “C.”) They’ll soon be short two more, once ethics problems end the careers of Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel. (Gateway Pundit)
In another sign that House Dem leaders are eager to silence talk about them losing the House, top Democrats are circulating a memo on Capitol Hill that lays out a detailed case for why Republicans will come up short this fall.