White House Won’t Rule Out That Obama Will Sign Other Bills–Such As Immigration Reform–That Are Not Put to Yea-or-Nay Votes in Both Houses
Thursday, March 18, 2010
By Fred Lucas, Staff Writer
Washington (CNSNews.com) – The White House declined on Thursday to rule out that President Barack Obama might sign future legislation, such as an immigration reform measure, that has not been put to a recorded yea-or-nay vote in both houses of Congress.
CNSNews.com asked White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs about the possibility of the president doing so because of a prospective lawsuit that Landmark Legal Foundation President Mark Levin has prepared to file against the president if he signs a health care bill that has not been passed by a direct recorded yea-or-nay vote in the House of Representatives. The prospective lawsuit argues that the plain language of Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that both houses of Congress hold recorded yea-or-nay votes on a bill before it can be presented to the president for his signature and before it can become law.
“I stated earlier that when this (health care) bill passes the House, the president will be happy to sign it,” Gibbs told CNSNews.com.
He twice declined to say, however, whether President Obama would rule out signing additional pieces of legislation that did not pass both chambers of Congress with a yea-or-nay vote.
CNSNews.com asked Gibbs: “Mark Levin, with the Landmark Legal Foundation, has prepared a suit against the president if he signs the health care bill not passed by the House with a recorded yea-or-nay vote required by Article 1 Section 7. My question on that is: Will the president rule out signing other bills, such as immigration reform, or finance reform you mentioned earlier, that are not subject to a recorded yea-or-nay vote in both chambers?”
Gibbs answered: “Again, this is–I think we’ve discussed on a number of occasions, certainly the last time we met inside – that this was the type of thing, the type of rule that you’ve seen pass on any number of instances. So, I understand that there are those that want to discuss this as being a unique thing. It is not. I stated earlier that when this bill passes the House, the president will be happy to sign it.”
CNSNews.com followed-up: “Is that still a constitutional argument in favor of it? That it has been done before?”
Gibbs said: “I’m unaware, again–I didn’t go to law school–I’m unaware of legal suits filed by a similar organization when the Republicans did similar things on legislation.”
CNSNews.com then asked: “So the president wouldn’t rule out signing future bills that didn’t pass both houses by a yea or nay vote?”
Gibbs responded: “I’m not going to get into a series of legal hypotheticals that both of us seem unprepared to discuss.”
Mark Levin, the president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has noted that a lawsuit was brought in regards to a similar matter in the 1998 case of Clinton vs. City of New York, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that the line-item veto was not constitutional.
That ruling cited the Constitution and stated that for a bill to become law it was neccary that “1) a bill containing its exact text was approved by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives; 2) the Senate approved precisely the same text; and 3) the text was signed into law by the president.”
Levin called the Slaughter Rule an “attempt to amend the Constitution without going through the process.”
“Gibbs’s incoherence is an attempt to deceive,” Levin told CNSNews.com on Thursday. “I have no doubt in my mind that the White House is working very closely with Pelosi and her lieutenants on this strategy of pretending they voted on an underlying bill when, in fact, they didn’t vote on it. So that’s why he is so deceitful.”
“His boss (Obama) yesterday, in an interview with Fox News and Brett Baier made quite clear that he’s well aware of what’s going on at the Hill and whatever comes to him, he’s going to sign,” said Levin. “So what we’ve learned from Brett Baier and you is that we have two branches of government that are absolutely committed to violating the Constitution in order to achieve an illegitimate ends.”
At the same White House briefing, another reporter asked Gibbs, “He’s (Obama) not worried that it’s constitutional?
Gibbs said, “He would sign that bill, yes.”
Another reporter also asked Gibbs if the White House was preparing a legal team to respond to lawsuits regarding the health care overhaul. Gibbs said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
The Landmark Legal Foundation is a conservative legal public interest group, led by Mark Levin, who also hosts a popular talk-radio show. Levin served as chief of staff to Attorney General Ed Meese in the Reagan Justice Department and as deputy solicitor for the Department of the Interior.
On Monday, March 15, Levin announced on his radio show that he intended to bring the lawsuit if the Senate health care bill is passed through the House without a yea-and-nay vote on the actual legislation and president signs it into law.
A draft of the suit names as defendants President Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Because the House violated the Constitution by never voting on the Senate bill, the Senate bill cannot be and is not the law of the United States,” the draft says. “Defendants, charged by law and the Constitution with enforcing the law, must be prevented from treating the Senate bill as the law of the United States. Any signature by the president is a nullity, and the piece of paper he has stated that he will sign or has signed is nothing more than that: a piece of paper.”
The House Rules Committee drafts the terms under which bills are brought to the floor and debated. Under a plan put together by Rules Chairman Louise Slaughter (D.-N.Y.), the House would “deem” the Senate health care bill passed without ever holding a recorded vote on it as required by Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution.
According to the plan, the House would pass a special rule governing debate on the budget reconciliation bill that has been crafted by the House Democratic leaders to make “fixes” in the Senate health care bill desired by House Democratic members. Under this rule, the Senate health care bill itself would be “deemed” to have been passed by the House if the full House subsequently voted to pass the budget reconciliation bill. At no time would the House actually hold a vote on the Senate health care bill itself before sending it to Obama to sign.
Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution states:
“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; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. 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.”