Friday, October 7, 2011

Article I, Section 7, Clause 1

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
It's a simple rule. And it's in the Constitution for very simple reasons: to make taxation more difficult and a function of direct representation (read: no taxation without representation). Known as the Origination Clause, this element of the Constitution was borrowed directly from an English rule--stemming from the Glorious Revolution--that required all such bills to go through the House of Commons, first and foremost. As Elbridge Gerry said in 1787, "...[the House] was more immediately the representatives of the people, and it was a maxim that the people should hold the purse-strings."

So, why is the Senate considering bills that would raise revenues, bills that have not been considered and passed by the House?

Some might say that this is a relatively innocuous situation, that it's simple enough to conform to the rule, via legal mechanisms, and that it's an ultimately pointless limitation, since the House is free to "blue slip" any Senate bill it feels crosses this line.

But that's hardly the point. Senators swear an oath--like the President and Representatives--to uphold and defend the Constitution and this is not a difficult rule to follow or understand. Yet, we--the people--fail to hold them to account, when they simply ignore the Constitution. If we're not willing to insist that our Senators follow the simplest of rules, how can we expect honesty in government, how can we complain about the deficit, the budget, and the like?

Cheers, all.

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