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Thursday, May 15, 2008

What does this mean?

Here's an Reuters story on today's surprise defeat in the US House of Representatives on a bill that would have appropriated around $160 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday defeated legislation that would have funded the war in Iraq for another year, in a surprise move that the Senate could overturn.

By a vote of 149-141, the Democrat-controlled House rejected a measure that would have given the Pentagon $162.5 billion to keep the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan running through next summer, slightly below President George W. Bush's request.

A large group of anti-war House Democrats voted against the funds. That, coupled with 132 Republicans voting "present," meaning neither "yes" nor "no," killed the measure for now.

But the Senate is expected to debate its version of a war-funding bill possibly next week and is likely to resurrect the money for the coming year.

As i recall, all appropriations must originate in the House, and be approved by both houses of Congress before being sent to the President for his signature. How can the Senate overturn the House's rejection of these funds? All that can happen is the Senate can pass its version of the bill, but then the House will have to either revisit this appropriation, or start from scratch. Or am i missing something?

UPDATE: Reader crc points out that revenue bills (ie taxes) must originate in the House, but that appropriations bills (ie spending) may originate in either body. Fair point. But the article implies, i think, that the Senate can unilaterally overturn the House's decision, and resurrect the appropriation, on its own. That's just wrong.

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3 Comments:

  • US Const. Art 1, Sec 7, Cl 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 an appropriations bill, not a revenue (tax) bill.

    By Blogger crc128, at 5:03 PM  

  • OK, but the House still has to approve it at some point, right? The Senate just can't spend this money on their own?

    By Blogger Barry, at 5:05 PM  

  • Actually, the House's right to originate spending or appropriations measures has long been debatable. It isn't explicitly granted in the Constitution - rather, the House has defined revenue measures to include general appropriations and thus the precedent has been set. However, this doesn't preclude the Senate from drafting/debating its own version of an appropriations bill. It general holds off on final passage until the House sends over its bill.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 5:06 PM  

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