Bill excludes death panels from Congressional repeal

It is not man’s law, but the law of the universe, that death comes to all men. The Zombiecrats aren’t willing to leave it at that. They want to make themselves the rulers and decreers of death. First they created death panels in the health care bill—bodies of government bureaucrats who will decide who gets medical care and who doesn’t. But that didn’t go far enough for the Zombiecrats. To make sure that their power to command death is locked in place and can never be challenged, they added a provision to the bill that would bar future Congresses from repealing the death panels.

Reversing John Donne, the Zombiecrats declare:

Death, thou shalt never die.

The source of this amazing information (which I was hesitant to believe when a reader first forwarded it to me from Red State last night) is none other than Sen. DeMint, speaking on the Senate floor the other day. It’s reported by John McCormack at the Weekly Standard blog:

Reid Bill Says Future Congresses Cannot Repeal Parts of Reid Bill

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill—and it’s supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

There’s one provision that I found particularly troubling and it’s under Section C, titled “Limitations on Changes to this subsection.”

And I quote—“It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

This is not legislation. It’s not law. This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. we will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a Senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.

I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a Senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. if you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future Senates.

I mean, we want to bind future Congresses. this goes to the fundamental purpose of Senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future co congresses.

Watch DeMint’s full remarks here:
[see video of remarks on Senate floor]

According to page 1001 of the Reid bill, the purpose of the Independent Medical Advisory Board is to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” For any fearmongers out there tempted to call an unelected body that recommends Medicare cuts a “Death Panel,” let me be clear. According to page 1004, IMAB proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care”—you know, just like the bill says there’s no funding for abortion.

Paging Sarah Palin: the death panel is unkillable.

- end of initial entry -

A. Zarkov writes:

According to the Weekly Standard, the Senate health care bill contains language that (1) changes Senate rules even though this is supposed to require a 2/3 vote, and (2) states on page 1020 that that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

It shall not be in order in the Senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

This is absolutely astonishing. Notice the House too is prevented from changing the subsection. No wonder they want this so bad. If legal this bill is a one-way street with no U-turn into socialism. Almost nothing else so clearly demonstrates that the Democrats have become a threat to the American republic. The health bill is starting to look more like a putsch than legislation.

Ian B. writes:

I’m speechless. Our founders went to war over taxation without representation, and that was because of some comparatively measly tariffs. The Democrats are now planning to dictate the terms of our very physical well-being to us without representation. Additionally, the taxes that will be required to fund these panels over which we have no say will be far greater than those tariffs. And then there’s this.

While I don’t know exactly where the line is, they have certainly crossed it. This is it. Revolution is now morally and politically justified. How do we organize? Where do I sign up? Is there any hope of a military coup I could join in the foreseeable future, while I’m still young enough to fight? Honest to God, Lawrence, I am willing to kill and die over this. I’m convinced that we’re past the point of no return by now, and that there are no non-drastic means of turning back our decay. I can’t bear to helplessly watch my country die and the future of the kids I plan to have soon be destroyed.

Karl D. writes:

While listening to talk radio today I tuned into Beck and Rush for awhile. What was interesting was that the people calling in seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that this healthcare bill is a done deal and are now onto what to do next? Several callers were calling for a tax revolt and were willing to do jail time. Some guy was calling for small businesses to not pay payroll taxes. I think a lot of this is pure bloviating from sheer anger. But at the same time I think this healthcare bill, just like Obama’s election is really going to bring down the wrath of God on Liberals in ways they cant even imagine yet. For every Liberal thing they do they just dig themselves into a deeper hole. We are living in very interesting times.

* * *

Here’s more on this from Robert Costa at NRO:

Here’s a transcript of the exchange between DeMint and the Senate president (h/t RedState):

DEMINT: But, Mr. President, as the chair has confirmed, Rule 22, paragraph 2, of the standing rules of the Senate, states that on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the senators present and voting. Let me go to the bill before us, because buried deep within the over 2,000 pages of this bill, we find a rather substantial change to the standing rules of the Senate. It is section 3403 and it begins on page 1,000 of the Reid substitute…. These provisions not only amend certain rules, they waive certain rules and create entirely new rules out of whole cloth.”

[The Senate President disagreed and said it was a change in procedure, not a change in rules, therefore the Senate precedent that a two-thirds vote is required to change the rules of the Senate does not apply.]

DEMINT: and so the language you see in this bill that specifically refers to a change in a rule is not a rule change, it’s a procedure change?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: that is correct.

DEMINT: then I guess our rules mean nothing, do they, if they can redefine them. Thank you. and I do yield back.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: the senate stands adjourned until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

As RedState wonders: Why did the Senate adjourn just when the questions got tough?

UPDATE: Some background from a GOP Senate staffer:

The bill changes some Senate rules to say we can’t vote in a future Congress to repeal the IMAB (death panels). A senate rules change would require 67 votes for cloture on the bill, but the parliamentarian decided its a “procedural change” not a “rules change” so they only need 60 … Makes no sense. Anyway, its likely we could still find a way to kill the death panels even though the bill changes the rules to say we can’t (maybe deny them funding would work, we could change the senate rule it creates in a later Congress with a 67 senator vote), but it’s clear the health bill changes Senate rules and needs 67 votes for cloture, but Frumin seems to be in Reid’s back pocket and is making stuff up to save the bill.

It also shows that this provision in particular is very important to Dems. They chose this section out of all others to give the highest possible protection against change or repeal showing how insatiable their desire is to allow Washington bureaucrats to control our lives.

* * *

Ian B. writes

Honestly, listening to that GOP Senate staffer just infuriates me more. He says:

maybe deny them funding would work, we could change the senate rule it creates in a later Congress with a 67 senator vote

Why? Why the hell would the GOP need to find some loophole? Why couldn’t the GOP simply disregard the rule in the future, just as the rule itself disregards the rules? Why couldn’t they just fabricate a new rule out of whole cloth in a future bill, same as the Democrats are doing?! The Democrats are making up the rules as they go along, and the gutless GOP feels obligated to have their hands tied not only by the original rules, but also by the new fabricated-out-of-thin-air rules? It angers me more than what the Democrats are doing. By their spinelessness, the Republicans are complicit in robbing us of any democratic means of addressing the situation.

A. Zarkov writes:

News of the Democrats’ attempt at a legislative putsch seems to be traveling across the Internet like wildfire. It’s generated two threads at the legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy (where I sometimes post). This law review article concludes that yes the Senate can make a rule change as part of legislation, but no the Senate can’t make a rule that a future Senate could not change through the normal rule making process. This thread by Eric Posner also concludes that no the Senate cannot enact what he calls legislative entrenchment. He has written an article on this very topic here. Posner says that the U.S. Supreme Court set up a principle in U.S. v. Winstar that prohibits entrenchment. BUT he himself disagrees, and thinks legislatures should be able to bind their successors. Thus like most things legal, a variety of opinions abound.

For the moment it would seem that the Democrats cannot get away with their attempt at entrenchment. But forewarned is forearmed—we need to clear out the nest of vermin next year, and conservatives must act aggressively.

James P. writes:

You’ve heard the saying that democracy in Africa means “one man, one vote, one time”—i.e. as soon as they elect a dictator, that’s the end of democracy and there is no further need for elections. Apparently the Democrats have a similar view of this health care bill—Congress will vote one time to enact socialized medicine, after which there is no further need for voting. One Democratic Congress, One Vote, One Time!

December 23

Clark Coleman writes:

It is unconstitutional for one Congress to limit a future Congress in ANY way. Any future Congress can change anything they like. A future Congress could abolish Social Security or Medicare overnight, for example; there is NO legal obligation incurred to anyone under these systems. Any cabinet department could be abolished or merged, etc. That being the case, it is obvious that no Congress can prevent a future Congress from abolishing a particular Medicare board.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 22, 2009 01:45 PM | Send

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