Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Senate to Vote on Bailout Bill

After the House of Representatives voted against the $700B bailout on Monday, there is now discussion of the Senate trying to pass the bill. This didn't seem right to me, since I always thought bills began in the House and if it got killed there, it was dead. But apparently the Senate can add things to a bill and vote on it...and the HOR still has to vote on it.

This is from Wikipedia for what it's worth, and I put in bold the sentence I found most significant:

Most bills may be introduced in either House of Congress. However, the Constitution provides that "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." As a result, the Senate does not have the power to initiate bills imposing taxes. Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate does not have the power to originate appropriation bills, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds. Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, whenever the Senate originates an appropriations bill, the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice. The constitutional provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the British Parliament, in which only the House of Commons may originate such measures.

Although it cannot originate revenue bills, the Senate retains the power to amend or reject them. As Woodrow Wilson wrote:

[T]he Senate's right to amend [revenue bills] has been allowed the widest possible scope. The upper house may add to them what it pleases; may go altogether outside of their original provisions and tack to them entirely new features of legislation, altering not only the amounts but even the objects of expenditure, and making out of the materials sent them by the popular chamber measures of an almost totally new character.

The approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is required for any bill, including a revenue bill, to become law. Both Houses must pass the exact same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by a conference committee, which includes members of both bodies. For the stages through which bills pass in the Senate, see Act of Congress.

The President may veto any bill passed by the House and Senate, unless both chambers have passed the bill by at least a two-thirds majority (see Veto override).

So, even if the Senate passes this "new" bill, the House still needs to vote on it as well if I'm reading this correctly. And how in the world does this happen? Some people are going to have to go against their constituents. The new version doesn't seem to have any changes to things that people were concerned about in the first place, like, for instance, the idea that Secretary of Treasury Paulson would have the keys to the Federal Reserve without much oversight. And, like, oh yeah...we're still paying for it.

I felt like this bill was wrong in very many ways, and rooted for its death. Many in Congress have mentioned there are other ways to combat this other than just throwing money at it. But it looks like we're still heading for that.

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At 9/30/2008 11:15:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

All I want is to avoid economic disaster. Once that's done (however that's done), all these failing companies can go. Your bank failed; deal with the consequences.


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