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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Origination Clause

A report from the Congressional Research Service provides some background for one aspect of the "fiscal cliff" battle.
Article I, Section 7, clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution, is known generally as the “Origination Clause” because it requires that
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.
As generally understood in both the House and Senate, this clause carries two kinds of
prohibitions. First, the Senate may not originate any measure that includes a provision for raising
revenue, and second, the Senate may not propose any amendment that would raise revenue to a non-revenue measure. The Senate, however, may generally amend a House-originated revenue measure as it sees fit. These prohibitions can be enforced in either the House or the Senate, and there are ample precedents for both.
At Mullings, Rich Galen explains how the Senate was able to write the compromise:
  • In fact is that what the Senate did was take a bill that had passed the House, H.R. 8, originally introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) in March of last year and titled "The Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012."
  • That was the bill amended by the Senate ("the Senate may propose .. Amendments as in other Bills") and sent back to the House. There is standard amending language that begins "Delete all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof " the next 2,700 pages of the new legislation.
  • The bill was re-titled to the "Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012," but it was still a House number and so was a Constitutionally acceptable Revenue bill.
  • Rep. Camp, by the way, is Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee which is the committee in charge of all legislation regarding taxes, so it is still his bill that the President will sign.