The Affordable Care Act’s opponents invested more than two years into convincing the judiciary that the Constitution and nearly 200 years of precedent does not apply to President Obama’s signature accomplishment. They peppered cable news shows with elected officials, riddled the nation’s op-ed pages with articles touting their false view of the Constitution, and they hired as their general a man who, despite a long list of reprehensible clients, is arguably the best lawyer in the United States. And after investing every single resource the conservative movement had at its fingertips, they still lost their case in the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) thinks that the brightest conservative minds in the country, after spending more than two years searching for something — anything — that they could use to undermine health reform, somehow managed to miss a fatal flaw. And he recently introduced a resolution seeking to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional based on this novel new theory:
Whereas article I, section 7, clause 1 of the United States Constitution provides that, ‘All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives’;
Whereas, on June 28, 2012, a majority of the United States Supreme Court held that the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 ‘cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause’ but ‘was within Congress’s power to tax’;
Whereas the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 was originally introduced in the United States Congress by its sponsor as the ‘Senate health care bill’ in the form of a Senate Amendment to H.R. 3590, which had passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 416-0 as the ‘Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009’ . . . .
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that–
(1) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 was a ‘Bill for raising Revenue’ as those words were intended to be understood in article I, section 7, clause 1 of the United States Constitution; and
(2) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 did not originate in the House of Representatives.
In essence Gohmert claims that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because it first passed the Senate, and bills that contain new taxes or other revenue raising measures must originate in the House. Gohmert’s resolution, however, only quotes half the relevant constitutional text, which provides that “[a]ll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.” As Gohmert admits, the bill that eventually became the Affordable Care Act was an “Senate Amendment to H.R. 3590, which had passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 416-0.” Had Gohmert actually bothered to read the entire sentence that he quotes from the Constitution, he would know that our founding document places no limit on the kinds of amendments the Senate can attach to a House bill that already concerns revenues.
Ultimately, however, these kinds of attacks on health reform have never had much to do with actually following the Constitution, and much more to do with throwing as much mud on Obamacare as possible to see if something sticks. The Supreme Court has spoken on these issues. It’s time for Gohmert to give it up.