The Washington Times reports on the latest wrinkle in the battle over illegal immigration: the Senate’s comprehensive “reform” bill may be unconstitutional. The argument is simple. The Constitution says that all revenue bills must originate in the House, and the Senate bill provides for the partial payment of back taxes by illegals, a provision that supporters say would raise billions of dollars. There is no counterpart in the legislation that passed the House.
Procedurally, the Times says that any member of the House can introduce a “blue-slip resolution” to return the defective bill to the Senate. While the account is unclear, it sounds as if the bill’s return is automatic if a Congressman objects
Majority Leader Bill Frist says there is an easy fix: attach the Senate bill to a revenue measure that has already passed the House. That would work, but Harry Reid refuses to go along. He says the constitutional objection is “technical in nature” and should simply be ignored. So, as we suspected, John McCain isn’t the only Senator who views the Constitution as optional.
Reid’s obstructionism is apparently intended to deny Republicans credit for enacting immigration reform prior to November. If so, I think he’s off the mark, as voters are much more likely to punish Republicans for enacting legislation that even slightly resembles the Senate bill than for doing nothing.