Thursday, December 13, 2012

House Returns Both Versions of NDA to Senate

Yesterday the House passed H. Res 829, a very short measure that returned H 4310 and S 3254 to the Senate without action. Readers of this blog will recall that these two identical bills were passed last week in the Senate and are the National Defense Authorization Act FY 2013.

The two bills were returned because, “in the opinion of this House, contravenes the first clause of the seventh section of the first article of the Constitution of the United States and is an infringement of the privileges of this House” {§1(a)(1)}. This constitutional provision maintains that all “Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives” {Article 1, Section 7}.

I did not notice a tax provision in the language, but I wasn’t looking for one either. Apparently the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (or more likely the Committee Staff) did, because he was the one responsible for this Resolution. There was no debate on the issue in the House and its full consideration took only 53 seconds.

I thought that it was unusual that the Senate amended HR 4310, substituting the language from the Senate bill as this is typically done with spending bills not authorization bills. That is done to avoid just this type of issue. It appears that in using HR 4310 as the vessel in this case stepped on the toes of the House Ways and Means Chairman as his Committee had no say in that bill.

It will be interesting to see if the Senate takes the matter back up and removes the offending section of the bill or just lets this go until the next session. I kind of expect the latter. If they do that the cybersecurity provisions of the 113th Congress version of this bill will undoubtedly be different.

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