By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.Not pretty. One would wish the politicians were even half as concerned about issues of constitutionality when it comes to the rights of citizens and rights of the states. But, frankly, I'll take their overweening concern for their own prerogatives as a good enough substitute if and when it blocks the reach of others as they seek to crush our rights as citizens!
The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage.
Section 107 of the bill includes a set of fees that are classified as revenue raisers, which are technically taxes under the Constitution. According to a House GOP leadership aide, that section has ruffled the feathers of Ways and Means Committee Democrats, who are expected to use the blue slip process to block completion of the bill.
--From an article by John Stanton in Roll Call
The blue slip could lead to one of two likely outcomes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could simply drop the issue and let the next session of Congress start from scratch, a strategy that would allow him time in the lame-duck session to tackle other last-minute priorities, such as the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, a long-term continuing resolution, an immigration bill and a repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members.There is more. But this gets to the nub.
Or he could try to force the issue in the Senate after the House passes a new version of the bill. But in order to do that and still tackle the other issues, he would need a unanimous consent agreement to limit debate.
According to Senate GOP aides, a unanimous consent agreement is all but certain to be a nonstarter because the bill’s chief opponent, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), will not agree to such a deal.
Coburn “will object and demand changes as [he has] from the get-go,” a GOP aide familiar with the situation said.
Mike Adams, who brought this particular article to my attention, commented:
The upshot of this is that this fight is not yet over. Unless the House makes an unprecedented exception to this blue slip rule, this legislation will apparently need to go back to the Senate floor for another vote.And, assuming the House will stand up for its constitutional prerogatives (and I can't imagine members of the House won't demand such a thing; set a precedent like permitting the Senate to introduce tax legislation, and--y'know--"all hell will break loose"), and assuming the bill is sent back to the Senate for another vote, Adams says,
[I]t looks like S.510 is now dead in the water and cannot be resurrected until the next session of Congress in which there will be far fewer Democrats (there was not a single Democrat in the US Senate who opposed the bill).Ah! May it be!
But, now, a question: Is it possible (????) that some (many? most?) Democratic senators who voted for the bill knew of this defect and voted for it partially because they could then report back (to some constituency) how they were so IN FAVOR of it while, in their hearts of hearts, they really weren't?
Nah! I have a hard time believing they "even" read the bill that carefully.
But the thought did cross my mind. At least briefly.