Food Safety Bill Passes Senate, But Constitutional Mistake Makes It Dead In The House

It is times like these you know Harry Reid is thinking “that Constitution is such a pesky thing.”

After spending its very limited time on a largely unknown bill that Democrats would have touted as a major success, it turns out that they overlooked one tiny little problem in the bill.

Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution states that tax increases must come from the House of Representatives.  Unfortunately for Reid and Senate Democrats Section 107 of bill S510 includes fees that are designated as revenue raisers.  That is political talk for a tax.  Since that right is held by the House, the Ways and Means Committee is expected to give the bill the blue slip.

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.

“We understand there is a blue slip problem, and we expect the House to assert its rights under the Constitution to be the place where revenue bills begin,” the GOP aide said.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, Reid is still promising to force a vote on the DREAM Act.  This has been a project of his for some time, which grants amnesty for many illegal aliens in the country.  This is all taking priority over extending the Bush tax cuts (or should I say preventing the Obama tax increases) that are set to expire at the end of the month. If you are curious about how much your “fair share” of taxes will be next year if Congress fails to act, click here.