Congressional Democrats Already Preparing to Lose Control of Congress

Apparently Senate Democrats have built a number of "entrenchment" provisions in the health care bill attempting to limit the ability of future Congresses to modify the law:

Jonathan notes that the health care bill includes certain "entrenchment" provisions, and asks, "can the current Senate bind future Senates in this way?"  If I understand the bill correctly, it creates an independent board that recommends ways to limit Medicare payments.  These recommendations go to the president, who in turn is supposed to submit them to Congress.  Congressional procedures are likewise constrained.  The Senate, for example, cannot debate the proposal for more than 30 hours; there are limits on House procedures as well.  The idea seems to be to constrain filibustering and other parliamentary maneuvers that would defeat cost-saving legislation in the future.  As Jonathan notes, the bill further provides that these constraints cannot be overturned by majority rule but require a 2/3 supermajority.

More here

A couple of thoughts:

  1. I expect future Congressmen to be no less arrogant than current Congressmen, so there is little chance they will allow themselves to be bound by this
  2. Do Democrats really think that they have gone through such a thoughtful and deliberative process in creating this bill that no future Congress can improve on it?
  3. This has been tried, e.g. on balanced budget stuff.  It never works.  Even the 60-vote cloture rule could be tossed out in a second -- it is public opinion and concern for future periods when the ruling party in the minority that prevents change, not law
  4. This is particularly hilarious as while this bill was being debated, there was a commission of experts that did make a recommendation of the type they are looking for in the future - in this case to limit screening of breast cancers for women under 50.  And Congress immediately overrode this recommendation with specific language in this very legislation.  No way Congress will allow itself to be bound by some unelected commission in the Administration, particularly when the two are inevitably controlled by different parties.
  • txjim

    LOL like these rules mean jack. They ignore plain Constitutional language every stinking day. Investigate every one of their financial dealings. Follow the money. Lock them up along with their benefactors. If that doesn't work then we'll "interpret" law ourselves and give it another go. When that happens, it will suck to be them.

  • Bob Smith

    Those constraints are meaningless. A present Congress cannot bind a future Congress, or so said the Supreme Court.

  • stan

    Why not just pass laws by a one vote plurality that require a unanimous vote for modification? Stupid Congress, trix are for kids.

  • Blackadder

    These provisions may not be effective in binding future Congresses, but they do constitute a rules change, which under Senate Rule XXII requires a 2/3 majority for cloture rather than 3/5. I wonder if anyone will realize this in time to make use of it?

  • K

    I think the ultimate in futile laws - at least from its title - was the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978.

    And there was the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act.

    And most amazing of all: those five guys really wanted a better government.

    By any honest standard that 2/3 vote to override should be held in a federal prison. At least 2/3 of the Senate would be there.

  • http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com ilovebenefits

    The biggest issue in overturning the legislation will be that changes in law may be vetoed by the President and to override that a 2/3 majority is required. http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com

  • Patrick M.

    "These provisions may not be effective in binding future Congresses, but they do constitute a rules change, which under Senate Rule XXII requires a 2/3 majority for cloture rather than 3/5. I wonder if anyone will realize this in time to make use of it?"

    Sen DeMint has already raised the issue. However, we have a sort of "Queen of Hearts" system in the Senate, where the rules are what the chair says they are and if a majority goes along with it, it sticks. So Republican protests will be ignored.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    There may be a states-rights /pre-emption out to this.

    See here and here.