House Democrats Call Budget Reconciliation Law Unconstitutional
Eleven House Democrats on Thursday said they would file suit against the Bush administration, alleging that the fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation act (S 1932) is unconstitutional because the House and Senate did not approve the same versions of the legislation, CongressDaily reports. Lawmakers said they would file the suit on Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit (CongressDaily, 4/28).
The law reduces spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other programs by about $39 billion over five years. As the legislation moved from the Senate to the House in February, a Senate clerk mistakenly changed a 13-month restriction on leases for medical equipment funded by Medicare to 36 months, a $2 billion difference. The House voted 216-214 to approve the legislation with the change (California Healthline, 3/23).
The error was addressed when President Bush on Feb. 8 signed the bill. The Bush administration and Republican lawmakers have said the matter is settled because the mistake was technical and because House and Senate leaders certified the bill before transmitting it to the White House.
The lawsuit, led by House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), asks a judge to declare that the act is not law and impose a temporary restraining order to prevent it from being implemented. Conyers said, "Once again the administration is playing fast and loose with the Constitution. Anyone who has passed the sixth grade knows that before a bill can become law, both Houses of Congress must approve it" (CongressDaily, 4/28).