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Here’s a side-splitter to start your day. President Bush vetoed the pork-laden farm bill monstrosity this week. The Democrat-led House overrode the veto.
But they forgot to include a substantial chunk of the ginormous bill they wanted passed in the package they sent to the White House. And now, everything’s FUBAR–causing the need for a do-over today. Can’t make this stuff up:
The House overwhelmingly rejected President Bush’s veto Wednesday of a $290 billion farm bill, but what should have been a stinging defeat for the president became an embarrassment for Democrats.
Only hours before the House’s 316-108 vote, Bush had vetoed the five-year measure, saying it was too expensive and gave too much money to wealthy farmers when farm incomes are high. The Senate then was expected to follow suit quickly.
Action stalled, however, after the discovery that Congress had omitted a 34-page section of the bill when lawmakers sent the massive measure to the White House.
That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, raising questions that the eventual law would be unconstitutional. Republicans objected when Democrats proposed passing the missing section separately and sending that to Bush.
In order to avoid those potential problems, House Democrats hoped to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for unopposed legislation. The Senate was expected to follow suit. The correct version would then be sent to Bush under a new bill number for another expected veto.
Lawmakers also will have to pass an extension of current farm law, which expires Friday.
Hapless San Fran Nan’s example of leadership? Naturally, she’s blaming the White House for not catching the screw-up she’s responsible for:
“We are trying to understand the ramifications of this congressional farm bill foul-up. We haven’t found a precedent for a congressional blunder of this magnitude,” said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman. “It looks like it may be back to square one for them.”
A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shot back.
“Partisan sniping won’t solve this clerical error that even the White House failed to catch,” said Drew Hammill.
You know all that talk about how you need a woman to clean up the House?
Speaking of bozos, way to go bozo Republicans:
About two-thirds of the bill would pay for nutrition programs such as food stamps; about $40 billion is for farm subsidies; and additional $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.
Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly abandoned Bush in voting to pass the bill last week, overlooking its cost amid public concern about the weak economy and high gas and grocery prices. Supporters praised the spending on food stamps and emergency food aid.
Before the problem with the bill was discovered, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the legislation could make the situation worse for struggling families.
“Members are going to have to think about how they will explain these votes back in their districts at a time when prices are on the rise,” she said. “People are not going to want to see their taxes increase.”
Bush said the legislation needlessly would expand government. He cited one new program in the bill that would pay more to corn growers and others if agriculture revenue were to drop significantly in the next five years. This program, he said, could add billions of dollars to the cost of the bill.
He added that minor cutbacks to subsidies for wealthy farmers were not sufficient.
“At a time when net farm income is projected to increase by more than $28 billion in 1 year, the American taxpayer should not be forced to subsidize that group of farmers who have adjusted gross incomes of up to $1.5 million,” the president said in his veto message.
12:38pm Eastern. Update from GOP leader Boehner’s office…
Attached is the text of the privileged resolution that House Republican Leader John Boehner just offered on the House floor right now.
Yesterday, Democratic leaders knowingly allowed the House to vote on an incorrect version of the legislation. Prior to yesterday’s vote, the Speaker and the Democratic Leadership were informed by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel and the Committee that the certified copy of the bill was erroneous and not an accurate or complete document. The Democratic Leadership deliberately chose to ignore this notification, and instead allowed the House to vote on an incorrect version of the bill. Democrats took this action over the clearly-expressed objections of House Republicans.
As a reminder, when similar constitutional questions were raised on the Deficit Reduction Act in 2006, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brought a privileged resolution to the floor (H.Res. 687). Portions of the text are as follows:
“Whereas although the Senate Enrolling Clerk had mistakenly changed critical numbers which had major financial significance… Leadership deliberately chose to ignore that notification and instead allowed the House to vote on an incorrect version of this legislation… Whereas the effect of these actions raises serious constitutional questions and jeopardizes the legal status of this legislation… Resolved, That the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall begin an immediate investigation into the abuse of power surrounding the inaccuracies in the process and enrollment…”
As a side note, I would note that in 2006 Democrats raised objections about two digits in the DRA. There are 8,332 words in Title III of the Farm Bill.
Raising a question of the privileges of the House.
Whereas the Democratic Leadership has engaged in a continuing pattern of withholding accurate information vital for Members of the House of Representatives to have before voting on legislation;
Whereas the conference report on H.R. 2419, which was adopted by the House on May 14, 2008, and the Senate on May 15, 2008, contained title III, relating to trade,
which contained sections 3001 through 3301;
Whereas the Speaker and the Clerk certified that the enrolled copy of H.R. 2419 transmitted to the President was a true and accurate reflection of the actions taken by the
House and Senate;
Whereas the enrolled copy certified by the Speaker and the Clerk and presented to the President failed to include title III and sections 3001 through 3301 and was not an accurate or complete document;
Whereas the President vetoed and returned to the House said certified copy;
Whereas before laying the President’s message before the House, the Speaker and the Democratic Leadership were informed by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel and
the Committee on Agriculture that said certified copy was erroneous and not an accurate or complete document;
Whereas on May 21, 2008, the Democratic Leadership deliberately chose to ignore that notification and instead allowed the House to vote on an incorrect version of this legislation;
Whereas a veto override requires 2/3 of the House to vote in the affirmative, and knowledge of this mistake may have influenced each Member’s decision and therefore changed
the outcome of this vote, which is why the Democratic Leadership chose not to pursue a correction of this legislation;
Whereas the effect of these actions raises serious constitutional questions and jeopardizes the legal status of this legislation;
Whereas Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer knowingly scheduled and began consideration of the President’s veto of H.R. 2419, without regard to the serious
and obvious constitutional questions and detrimental implications to the sanctity of the House and its process;
Whereas at the direction of the Republican Leader, senior staff contacted the Chief-of-Staff to the Speaker and the Floor Director for the Majority Leader, requesting that they immediately halt consideration of the veto message until the facts surrounding the errors could be sorted out and all Members could be notified;
Whereas the Democratic Leadership refused that request;
Whereas in the 109th Congress, the current Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, offered a privileged resolution, H.Res. 683, accusing the Republicans of concealment, incompetence, and corruption with respect to the enrollment error of the Deficit Reduction Act;
Whereas the Deficit Reduction Act was the subject of numerous lawsuits questioning its validity due to the enrollment error, including a lawsuit filed by several Democratic
Whereas in a memorandum from the Clerk of the House to Speaker Nancy Pelosi entitled ‘‘Farm Bill Omission’’ and dated May 21, 2008, the Clerk stated ‘‘Enrolling Division
staff expressed concern in receiving direct calls from Leadership and the Committee to accelerate the enrolling process.’’; and
Whereas the Democratic Leadership’s repeated efforts to thwart the normal legislative process by cutting corners, ignoring requirements of the Constitution and House
rules, and rushing through legislation with major errors, forces Members to vote on controversial legislation without thorough time for review and must be denounced:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That—
(1) the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall begin an immediate investigation into the abuse of power surrounding the inaccuracies in the process and enrollment of H.R. 2419, Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, vetoed by the President on May 21, 2008; and,
(2) the Speaker, Majority Leader and other Members of the Democratic Leadership are hereby admonished for their roles in the events surrounding this enrollment error.