Van Hollen Dodges Constitutional Question on Pelosi Strategy to Pass ObamaCare
On FOX News Sunday, Assistant to the Speaker of the House Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) followed his own advise contained in a memo leaked to Politico that advises silence on unconstitutional ObamaCare procedure. The Constitution clearly states that bills have to be voted upon in the House before being presented to the President. Leaders in the House are considering a complicated procedure to pass ObamaCare in the House without a vote and in violation of Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution.The Constitution says that:
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; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on FOX News Sunday today that “Speaker Pelosi is thinking about bending the rules and frankly making it so there is not a direct vote on the Senate health care bill.” Pelosi is considering a rule that would be structured so that a vote on the rule would deem the Senate passed version of ObamaCare be passed if a health care reconciliation measure is passed. In other words, if the rule is passed, then the reconciliation measure is passed, and then the Senate passed version of ObamaCare would be deemed to have been passed by the House. This clearly is not an “up or down” vote on ObamaCare.
Van Hollen responded to Cantor by saying that “we are going to have an up or down vote, whether it is going to be on the Senate bill or a procedure that will include passage of the Senate bill recognizing that we are amending the Senate bill.” An up or down vote on a procedure is not an up or down vote on a bill. Van Hollen was quick to attempt a shift away from this procedural debate, but Cantor brought the discussion back to this questionable procedure.
Cantor further responded to Van Hollen by saying that ”there should be, in the minds of most Americans, a direct vote on the Senate bill. I have the Constitution right here. It is Article 1, Section 7.” Cantor is correct and Republicans in the House should raise a Constitutional point of order against any rule that does not allow an up or down vote on the Senate approach to ObamaCare. Any procedure short of a direct, up or down vote, on the Senate version of ObamaCare will call this bill’s content and procedure to pass the bill into question. Van Hollen’s response to the charge that the procedure being considered to pass ObamaCare is unconstitutional is telling.
Van Hollen circulated a memo late last week advising members to avoid a discussion of the procedure to be used to jam ObamaCare through the House. Chris Frates at Politico writes about a Van Hollen leaked memo prepared Democrat members for questions on the unconstitutional process:
The Van Hollen memo also advised members to avoid talking about the process. “At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no? Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL,” the memo says. “People who try and start arguments about process on this are almost always against the actual policy substance too, often times for purely political reasons.”
According to Fox, the Democrats are 5 votes short of the necessary votes needed to pass a procedure that will avoid a direct vote on the Senate version of ObamaCare. The tentative tally, again according to FOX is 211 to 220. They are 5 votes short of the 216 needed to pass and a promise not to force moderate Democrats to have to vote directly on the Senate version of ObamaCare may help pass the bill. Promising members in conservative leaning districts to vote for a procedure rather than an unpopular bill may help to convince enough Democrats to vote for the procedure. This is one instance where an unconstitutional procedure is being employed to pass a piece of legislation.
Dan Perrin has another excellent post today disussing the unpopularity of ObamaCare.