“Slaughter Solution”: Can you smell the Constitution burning?

If not, you better get your nose checked because, as Doug Ross notes here, the “Slaughter Solution” is in play this week for a Democrat party in Washington, DC that is so hellbent on passing some form of healthcare “reform” by the end of the week that they’re willing to blatantly violate the Constitution in order to do so (much more so than it has already been violated over the past several decades, I should add).

What is the Slaughter Solution? Director of Stanford Law School Constitutional Law Center (where he is also a professor) and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute Michael McConnell explains:

Democratic congressional leaders have floated a plan to enact health-care reform by a procedure dubbed “the Slaughter solution.” It is named not for the political carnage that it might inflict on their members, but for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the powerful House Rules Committee, who proposed it. Under her proposal, Democrats would pass a rule that deems the Senate’s health-care bill to have passed the House, without the House actually voting on the bill. This would enable Congress to vote on legislation that fixes flaws in the Senate health-care bill without facing a Senate filibuster, and without requiring House members to vote in favor of a Senate bill that is now politically toxic.

The Slaughter solution cannot be squared with Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution.

Senate rules protect against majoritarian overreach by allowing a determined minority to filibuster most types of legislation. The majority needs 60 votes to override a filibuster. One exception, adopted in 1974, is legislation that makes adjustments to spending or revenues to reconcile current law to a budget resolution that has passed Congress. These are called reconciliation bills, and they require only a majority vote.


That is where reconciliation fits in. If the House passes the Senate bill and the president then signs it into law, reconciliation would permit Congress to pass new legislation making changes to that law. Reconciliation might not solve the abortion coverage problem or other nonbudgetary issues, but it would allow Democrats to correct most of the Senate bill’s offensive features.

The rub is that, according to the Senate parliamentarian, reconciliation is permitted only for bills that amend existing law, not for amendments to bills that have yet to be enacted. This means that, for the Senate to be able to avoid a filibuster, House Democrats first have to vote for the identical bill that passed the Senate last Christmas Eve. That means voting aye on the special deals, aye on abortion coverage, and aye on high taxes on expensive health-insurance plans. Challengers are salivating at the prospect of running against incumbents who vote for these provisions.

Enter the Slaughter solution. It may be clever, but it is not constitutional. To become law—hence eligible for amendment via reconciliation—the Senate health-care bill must actually be signed into law. The Constitution speaks directly to how that is done. According to Article I, Section 7, in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” and be “presented to the President of the United States” for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has “passed” both Houses, it cannot be presented to the president and cannot become a law.


The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the “exact text” must be approved by one house; the other house must approve “precisely the same text.”

And the WH response when asked about the Slaughter Solution? Well, of course it’s to lie through their teeth about it, Robert Fibbs style.

So much for the phony campaign promises by ObamaCo. about “returning the United States to the rule of law” or however he worded the bogus “pledge” prior to being elected in November 2008. This WH – and the party it represents – gives entirely new meanings to the word “transparency,” none of them being good.

Oh – and what has the “newspaper of record” written about this brazen disregard for the Constitution? To date: absolutely nothing. Same same for the WaPo.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the water-carrying for the Obama adminstration and the Democratic party agenda by the “leading” (liberal) newspapers around the country continues on what is arguably the most contentious domestic bill/issue to hit this country in over 40 years. Not surprising, of course, but worth mentioning all the same.

Comments are closed.