There is a lot of screaming going on over the House Democrats’ supposed plan to pass the health care reform bill by “deeming” it passed while passing reconciliation amendments, etc. Most of the screaming involves people’s beliefs about the U.S. Constitution:
- The Left is stomping all over the constitution!
- You have to have a vote, the Constitution says so!
- The bill has to pass by a 2/3 majority!
Please don’t misunderstand my feelings on this massive expansion of the Federal government – I don’t like it. However, I have been thinking about a couple of things.
Article 1 Section 7 states in part: “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;… But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.”
Does this language make a vote mandatory? Article 1, Section 5 states in part: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings….” If the U.S. House of Representatives has a rule in place that allows them to deem a bill passed without actually voting on it, is the bill “unconstitutional?” I don’t have an answer to that question. But I will say that if such a rule exists, I’d like to know who voted to allow and who voted against allowing such a rule.
As for a 2/3 majority, that is only needed to override a Presidential veto and in other cases outlined in the U.S. Constitution. In both houses, a simple majority is all that is needed to pass a bill.
I know that I need to learn more about how the Legislative branch functions. On the other hand, if this health care overhaul passes the House, it might not matter.