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Who Makes the Laws Anyways?

October 15, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In the worst cases, some Congressmen will obliterate the Constitution to secure political favors for people who raise money for their campaigns. One of the most glaring examples of this is a recently discovered $10 million earmark that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) secured in 2005 for a campaign benefactor by rewriting a bill after it had been passed by Congress, but before it was signed by the President. Young, using his position in Congress, undermined the lawmaking process by sending a provision to the President that hadn’t been approved by the House or the Senate. Article I of the Constitution gives the power to make laws and appropriate funds to Congress, not to individual Congressmen.

The Hill got their hands on a memo from the Congressional Research Service that outlines the many ways that Young violated the Constitution in his scheme to secure a political favor:

>Lawmakers must pass a concurrent resolution if they want to codify a substantive change to a bill that was made after its initial passage in either chamber, according to the Oct. 4 memo, which was obtained by The Hill.
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>An anonymous congressional office requested the memo, in an apparent attempt to gain insight into the growing debate over Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) alleged involvement in changing earmark language in the 2005 highway bill after both chambers passed it.
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>The memo states that if an error or change appears in a bill that was not included in the original version, and it does not “reflect congressional action on a measure,” “both chambers must agree to a concurrent resolution that directs the appropriate official to re-enroll the bill with specified changes.”
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>If the measure has already been presented to the president, “the concurrent resolution must also request the President to return the bill to the chamber of origin.”
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>Such a resolution can only be agreed to by unanimous consent.
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>The memo also addresses cases when “irregularities in enrollment resulted in the enactment of a measure not in the form agreed to by both chambers.”
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>“If Congress does not address the problem with a subsequent new enactment, the constitutionality of the measure may be challenged in federal court,” states the memo.

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