The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oops! Dubya signs bill into law-- ilegally.

Granted, it isn't the sort of story that will grab national headlines. And 'incompetence' and 'Bush' have already become pretty closely linked in the minds in a majority of Americans. It's the sort of story that the White House can and will nip pretty quickly in the bud.

But it could be useful for Dems to keep it in mind during an election year, because the prez "opted" for a version that would slash health spending. The fact that the president didn't have that power in the first place is just gravy.

A congressional watchdog group filed a suit on Tuesday in federal court challenging the constitutionality of a $39 billion spending-cut law that passed each chamber of Congress in different forms.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president signs into law only bills that are passed in identical form by both chambers.

"We have filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration for trying to sign into law something that is unconstitutional," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.

In early February, President George W. Bush signed the controversial budget bill into law, carrying out conservative Republicans' campaign to cut domestic programs including federal health care for the poor and elderly.

The legislation passed the Senate in December only after Vice President Dick Cheney, in his role as president of the Senate, cast a rare tie-breaking vote. Passage in the House of Representatives was extremely close too.

At issue is a change written into the legislation by a Senate clerk after it passed the Senate and before it reached the House. The change involved the length of Medicare payments for the rental of medical equipment such as oxygen tanks, wheelchairs and hospital beds.

The Senate bill set those payments at 13 months. But by the time it reached the House, the provision was rewritten to 36 months. The president signed the Senate's version into law.

In the final paragraphs, an attempt by Senate Republicans to fix the problem is brielfy outlined. Only it bypassed the House, too. Ha ha ha! Isn't one-party rule a gas?