Senate Passes “The ______Act of____”—No Foolin’!
What a mess the Senate has made of H.R. 1586. It’s a package of spending and revenue measures—but we’ll ignore the substance for now because they have so utterly goofed up the name.
As we noted here before, this is a “shell bill.” It was introduced as one thing (TARP taxes), became another thing (an aviation bill), and is now a batch of spending policies. (Cost: about $125 per family)
The most recent version of the bill was produced when the Senate passed a “substitute amendment.” That’s an amendment that clips out everything in the bill and puts in all new text.
In the House and Senate, they often publish amendments ahead of time, and it looks like someone was in a rush to get the amendment together, because they left blank lines where the new name of the bill should have been.
Take a look for yourself. Down toward the bottom of this page in the Congressional Record, it says, “SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the “_______Act of______”. (The Library of Congress’ Thomas reporting system picked that up as the “XXXXXXAct ofXXXX,” so that’s how it shows up on our site.)
Well, THAT’s the amendment they brought up and passed, so the new name of the bill is the “_______Act of______.”
And that’s the way it might be signed into law.
You see, the Constitution requires both Houses of Congress to pass identical bills before they can be sent to the president and signed into law. The Senate has left town for the rest of August, and the House is coming back next week to put its stamp of approval on the bill.
President Obama wants to sign it quickly—the bill is already up on the Whitehouse.gov “pending legislation” page (though posting it there before the bill passes Congress doesn’t count as Sunlight Before Signing). So the House has to approve this bill, with the name “_______Act of______.”
The only other alternative is for the House to change the name and have the Senate come back for another vote.
Congress seems always to be hustling to get things done—even when it’s spending billions of taxpayer dollars. This time, they were hustling so fast to get the money moving that they couldn’t take the time to give the bill a proper name.
Whose problem is this? Yours! You voted these folks in!