the financial bailout bill---why did the Senate vote before the House of Reps?

I need help remembering basic 7th grade social studies :

I thought that the constitution splits the duties of the Senate and the House, and clearly states that financial and tax bills must originate in the House.
But today’s news is reporting that after the failure a couple days ago, the newly re-written bill has been passed by Senate, and now will be sent for approval by the House. Why did the Senate vote first?
And on the bill which failed, which house voted first, and why? You need a majority in both–is there a procedural reason for starting in the Senate and not the House of reps?

(the theory they taught us was that the 2 year representatives in the House are more attuned to the needs of the citizens, because they constantly face re-election: which, when you think about it, implies that the the 6-year Senators have always been expected to ignore the needs of their constituents :slight_smile: )

You are aware of the “failure” a couple days ago. The failure was because the House voted on the bailout bill, which didn’t pass.

Which doesn’t answer the question that was asked.

The Constitution requires that all revenue bills start in the House[sup]1[/sup]. But the bill in question is not a revenue bill, it’s an authorization for the treasury to sell bonds to raise money to buy up a bunch of crappy investments from Wall Street.

[sub]1. A 200-some-odd year dispute between the House and the Senate is who has the right to start appropriations bills. The Constitution is silent on the issue, but the House has always maintained that this exclusive right is inherent in the power to start revenue bills. To drive the point home, they always silently reject any appropriations bill originating in the Senate.

It helps to go back to the actual text of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 7.

The rescue bill is manifestly not a bill for raising revenue. Even if it were, the Senate could amend it. No mention is made of which House has to vote first on the proposed bill.

The entire rescue plan has been included as an amendment to a non-allied bill, so it can go past the normal route of committee hearings, etc.: The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. It is essentially the same plan that the House turned down with a few additional amendments, so it’s not a new bill at all. It was passed first because time is short, the Senate wanted to demonstrate bipartisanship, and it didn’t procedurally matter: they had to take it up at some point.

Back to the seventh grade, son. :slight_smile:

Not to raise an irrtelevant argument, but by way of parallel: Does the President constitutionally have the right to hold people suspected of terrorism-related war crimes indefinitely without trial on leased extraterritorial land? The answer, while hotly debated over in GD, is in some ways moot: he is doing it, and no one is prepared to go through the constitutional crisis that would probably necessary to cause him to desist.

The Senate is working on their version of a bailout bill. As an appropriations measure, should such a ill originate in the House? Perhaps – but, like the President’s actions in Gitmo, the point is moot. The Senate is doing it; the final measure will be one acceptable to both houses (and probably passed under a head that claims it originated in the House). The Senate’s input and concurrence will be part and parcel of the result; what difference does it make if they nail down what they will concur among themselves on prior to the House sending up the bill that will be amended to become the final measure?

Freudian slip? :wink:

:confused: The House voted on the bill, it didn’t pass. This is the “failure” from a couple days ago. The Senate revised it a bit, voted, it passed. Now it goes back to the House.

So, to explicitly answer the OP, the Senate didn’t vote before the House, the approved a bill that didn’t pass the House. The House voted before the Senate, but the bill didn’t get approved. The Senate approved a bill that had previously been voted upon, but not passed, by the House.

The OP seems to know all that. He was asking about why the new bill possibly could originate in the Senate, thinking all financial bills must originate in the House. I and a couple other posters pointed out that this only applies to revenue (i.e. tax) bills and in some cases appropriations bills.

It’s not a new bill. Even the OP understands that it is a “newly-rewritten” bill, which is a terrible way of saying amended.

Knowing that, what I can’t understand is why anyone would think the prohibition on originating bills would apply.

In any case, the whole question is moot. None of it applies to the current circumstances.

The “bailout” is attached to a piece of legislation already passed by the House - something to do with medical care for the mentally ill. So it did not originate in the Senate (technically), it is an amendment to another bill already under consideration by the Senate.

And this was necessary because it WAS a revenue bill – the Senate-passed measure included an extension of several popular tax credits.

I think you’ve made me more confused.

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (HR 1424) was not a revenue bill, at least I don’t see any revenue provisions in the summary or in the list of sections. I didn’t read every word, admittedly. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 does not appear to have any revenue provisions in it. It has some tax code changes but I don’t think that counts as a revenue bill for these purposes.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was apparently substituted for the wording in HR 3997, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2007, but the Senate did not take up any of the provisions of the original bill.

If you’re saying the HR 3997, passed in 2007, was a revenue bill whose entire wordage was later replaced by a non-revenue bill and that wordage was taken up by the Senate and substituted for a different non-revenue bill but then had revenue amendments attached, then I agree. crashed, so it’s hard this time of night to check all the versions and their wordings.

The Senate wanted to include in their version of the bailout a measure to renew dozens of tax credits (e.g. research and development tax credits) and tax provisions (e.g. a “fix” to ensure the Alternative Minimun Tax does not apply to middle class families). Some of these expired in 2007, and others are due to expire this year. The extension of these credits and provisions would result in the federal government taking in money – therefore, they are revenue measures. “Raising revenue” does not mean “increasing revenue” – even bills that simply extend the current tax code are revenue raisers in the sense that they give the government the authority to take in revenues.

The Constitution says that revenue bills must originate in the House. However, the Senate can take any tax-related bill that originated in the House, pass an amendment that strikes everything out of the bill but the title, and replace the text with their own revenue measures. Even though the bill now has nothing to do with what the House orignally passed, technically the bill still originated in the House and was merely amended in the Senate.

And that’s what the Senate did on the bailout. They took a House-passed measure on mental health tax provisions, deleted everything from the text, and substituted the bailout and tax extension provisions.

This question is slightly off-topic but I’ll give it a shot. I have read about how your congress bundles totally unrelated legislation and votes on them as a package. This practice seems very strange to me, why don’t they keep the distinctly different pieces separate? I have seen examples of them sneaking in very deceptive legislation into other legislation which would make a Nay voter look bad if he/she opposes. This could force politicians to approve something since the bill contains largely good stuff, even though it has some nasty unrelated pieces.

I just addressed that question here, at post number 15.

Thanks for the answer. I’ll bring further questions to that thread since it seems more relevant there.