Heritage Demonstrates How Senate Immigration Bill May Violate Origination Clause

The Gang of Eight amnesty bill has serious flaws.  It fails to truly secure the border, puts amnesty first, and ignores state and local partnerships, instead granting a massive amount of power to Washington.   But it gets worse; Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committe, has pointed out five ways the bill may violate the Origination Clause of the Constitution.  Heritage’s Andrew Kloster explains the Origination Clause:

The House of Representatives is the primary enforcer of the Origination Clause and has a body of precedent broadly interpreting the Origination Clause: Any bill that has the potential to affect revenue must originate in the House.

If they are following Mr. Obama’s lead, most Senate Democrats will probably not oppose an unconstitutional bill very strongly.  But that does not mean this is not a serious concern.

Kloster explains that Chairman Camp’s concerns are not unjustified.

Chairman Camp has identified five sections of the Senate bill that he believes affect revenue. Sections 6 and 5105 arguably draw from or pour into the general fund on a regular basis rather than tying fees to services provided, which would affect the federal deficit in unforeseeable ways. Sections 2211, 2309, and 2232 affect the availability of tax credits. Finally, Section 4104 requires employers to pay a fee that is redistributed to states for various expenses. Since this section makes no attempt to relate the fee to a service provided by the government, it is arguably a simple revenue-raising “tax.”

These surcharges, fees, and changes in taxation all appear to be classic cases of revenue proposals historically blue-slipped by the House. In fact, the Senate itself sustains points of order against bills that the Senate feels violate the Origination Clause prerogatives of the House. While Senate precedent would have likely sustained such a point of order with respect to S. 744, no such objection was made.

He adds:

Conversely, when the House really does originate a bill, could the Senate simply amend the bill entirely? Is the Origination Clause a simple formality? These questions are still unsettled and will have to be resolved by courts.

 Though courts may resolve those unsettled questions, Kloster advises the House of Representatives to take seriously their duty to police the Origination Clause.  

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