Friday, April 28, 2006

Government: Republican Congress Failed 6th Grade Civics

Well, my life just got even more confusing:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eleven House Democrats said Thursday they would sue the Bush administration, alleging the $39 billion deficit-reducing legislation signed by the president is unconstitutional because the House and Senate failed to approve identical versions.


A version of the bill that was narrowly approved by the House on Feb. 1 contained a clerical error. That error was fixed when the bill was transmitted to Bush, who signed it Feb. 8.

The White House and House and Senate GOP leaders have said the matter is settled because the mistake was technical and top House and Senate leaders certified the bill before transmitting it to the White House.


House Democrats have sought another vote, accusing Republican leaders of abusing the legislative process. The 11 Democrats pursuing the Michigan lawsuit contend they were denied their right to vote on legislation signed into law by the president.

The lawsuit asks a judge to declare the act is not law and provide a temporary restraining order preventing it from being implemented.

This sort of sloppiness happens all the time with this Congress. They hold votes at 2am. Many, many different versions of a bill are passed around. The committee system is bypassed. Regular Order is ignored. And so mistakes are made a lot more often.

Usually, they just vote on and pass a resolution after the fact, clarifying what they meant to pass, and the White House sends a signing statement, saying that they meant to sign it. But this time around the bill was so unpopular, and the vote was so close, they decided to just forgo another vote and hope no one noticed. But plenty of people noticed, for good reasons.

On one hand, I want the law to be held unconstitutional because, well, its blatantly unconstitutional. It's also a lousy law that harms tens of millions of Americans.

On the other hand, millions of civil servants, grantees, and contractors will be really, really screwed if this law is even just legally enjoined for a few months while the Supreme Court sorts it out. From the day the President signed the bill, BILLIONS of dollars started flowing out the door for various purposes. Recalling those dollars, canceling contracts, and delaying grants would be a nightmare, costing BILLIONS more to sort through, take back, and then put out again whenever they did pass a budget, perhaps in an altered form.

Perhaps I should just root for the invention of a time machine instead.


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