You've been hearing a lot this week about the Slaughter Solution, the rule devised by House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter of New York whereby the House would pass an Obamacare reconcilliation bill via a rule that "deems" the chamber to have voted for the Senate version of Obamacare even though no such recorded vote was actually taken.
It's been dubbed the "Slaughter Solution in the media. I prefer to call the Alice in Wonderland way of passing Obamacare.
But put aside the present for the moment and step into my time machine. Dial the date selector back to 2005 when the Republican majority in Congress approved a national debt limit increase using a self-executing rule similar to the Slaughter Solution.
Guess who went to federal court to challenge the constitutionality of the move? The Ralph Nader-backed Public Citizen legal activists. Here's the argument they made:
"Article I of the United States Constitution requires that before proposed legislation may "become a Law," U.S. CONST. art. I, § 7, cl. 2, "(1) a bill containing its exact text [must be] approved by a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives; (2) the Senate [must] approve precisely the same text; and (3) that text [must be] signed into law by the President," Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 448, 118 S.Ct. 2091, 141 L.Ed.2d 393 (1998).
"Public Citizen, a not-for-profit consumer advocacy organization, filed suit in District Court claiming that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub.L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 4 (2006) ("DRA" or "Act"), is invalid because the bill that was presented to the President did not first pass both chambers of Congress in the exact same form. In particular, Public Citizen contends that the statute's enactment did not comport with the bicameral passage requirement of Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, because the version of the legislation that was presented to the House contained a clerk's error with respect to one term, so the House and Senate voted on slightly different versions of the bill and the President signed the version passed by the Senate.
"Public Citizen asserts that it is irrelevant that the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate both signed a version of the proposed legislation identical to the version signed by the President. Nor does it matter, Public Citizen argues, that the congressional leaders' signatures attest that indistinguishable legislative text passed both houses." (Emphasis added)
It's important to be clear that the issue before the court was whether a minor text correction was sufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirement that both chambers of Congress must pass the exact same bill. In this 2005 case, the court ruled the minor correction was acceptable.
The deeming of an entire bill to have been passed without a prior recorded vote goes far beyond a minor text correction, so the constitutional principle clearly would be violated by the Slaughter Solution.
And now for the kicker, guess who joined Public Citizen in that suit with amicus briefs:
If the Pelosi/Slaughter/Waxman argument against using a self-executing rule against a debt limit increase measure sounds familiar, it should because it's the same argument now being used by Republicans to oppose the Slaughter Solution for moving Obamacare through the House.
Of course, there is one major difference between 2005 and 2010. Debt limit increases are routine in Congress and have been for decades. But to place the American private health care system under government control -- effectively socializing one-sixth of the U.S. economy -- that has never been done before.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: [link to www.washingtonexaminer.com
[link to www.citizen.org