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The Sausage Factory

Do Over?

 That is fine for children’s games, but it is another matter when it involves the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Earlier this week, the Speaker and Majority Leader sent the President the wrong farm bill.  When legislation passes, it is enrolled and signed by the Speaker and the Senate Pro Tempore.  It is then sent to the President to be signed or vetoed.  Problem was, the bill that the House and Senate actually passed was different than the bill sent to the President – somehow the leaders left out one of the three parts of the bill.  The Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional for the President to sign or veto portions of legislation.  It’s either all or nothing.

The leaders of the House decided to compound the problem by proceeding to override the bill the President vetoed.  Republican Leader Boehner was swift to point out the constitutional problem with the proposed actions, yet the leaders proceeded anyway.  Not only were Member’s forced to take a meaningless vote, but the whole process showed a profound lack of respect for the traditions and procedures of the people’s House.

Mistakes happen.  People make errors.  Instead of apologizing, acknowledging and correcting the mistake, however, the leadership of the House forced through an override vote that further complicated their Constitutional error.  

The only option is an embarrassing “do over.”  The entire process must begin again – with both the House and Senate passing new legislation and sending a new farm bill to the President. 

Mark Strand is the President of the Congressional Institute. The Sausage Factory blog is a Congressional Institute project dedicated to explaining parliamentary procedure, Congressional politics, and other issues pertaining to the legislative branch.

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