This is the cautionary tale of two bills:
1. H.R. 3590 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes. Entered IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on September 17, 2009 by Charlie Rangel.
2. H.R. 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act. Entered IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on October 29, 2009 by John Dingell.
H.R. 3950, when in the House, had the short title of Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009. The bill was six pages long and primarily affected the tax treatment and first time home buyer credit for US Military. It passed on Oct 8, 2009 with 416 Yes votes and 16 not voting. After all, it was a good thing to help our heroes fighting in the War on Terror. Good going House guys in passing it virtually unanimously.
As you probably know, H.R. 3962 was voted on a late Saturday night (Nov 7) and squeaked by 220 – 215 with one Republican voting yes. It was placed on the Senate calendar on Nov 16, 2009. Some pundits said it was dead on arrival in the Senate and would never pass in its current form (2,016 pages).
Now here’s the tricky thing: H.R. 3590 was amended in the Senate (by replacement) by Harry Reid. The original six page bill suddenly became 2,076 pages and acquired the new title of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill, remember, started as a Revenue bill. Now it is the health care bill, but it can be reconciled by simple majority vote in both chambers. This sleight of hand was accomplished with these words:
AMENDMENT NO. 2786
Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES—111th Cong., 1st Sess.
H. R. 3590
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify
the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members
of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees,
and for other purposes.
November 19, 2009
Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed
Amendment in the nature of a substitute intended to be
proposed by Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr.
DODD, and Mr. HARKIN)
1 Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:
Now, some on the left will think this was clever of the Democratic leadership. Some on the right will think it is chicanery. What do you think?
I think I’m going to vomit.