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October 02, 2008

The Martin Luther King Incitement of Racial Hatred and Bigotry Act of 2008

According to the Constitution, all appropriations bills must originate in the House of Representatives. So what was Harry Reid to do, with the House out of session and faced with the need to immediately give Wall Street $700 billion?

What he did was dig up an appropriations bill that had originated in the House and then been sent over to the Senate, where it bogged down. This happened IN 2002. Moreover, the Senate version had been co-sponsored BY PAUL WELLSTONE.

Of course, Wellstone never wrote a bill bailing out Wall Street. So Reid just gutted the bill and added that part. But Wellstone's name is still on it, on page 263 (pdf). It's like the world's investment bankers dug up Wellstone so they could punch him in the face one more time.


UPDATE: See comments for why literally everything about this post is wrong.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 2, 2008 08:31 AM


Just when you think things can't get lower, they do.

Mike of Angle; in your conspiracy mania, did Wellstone's accident rise to funkiness?

Posted by: Labiche at October 2, 2008 08:56 AM

As I recall, Walter Reuther departed the same way. Could you imagine if Lefties only took Amtrak?

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at October 2, 2008 09:28 AM

Does one really believe, the senators read 400+ page bill before it was voted on? Not surprisingly, they find out later that there were amendments they did not know anything about!!! Probably the interns in the office read the bill and did not even know who
Sen Wellstone was!!!!

For the conspiracy theorists, additional munition!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 2, 2008 10:12 AM

Jonathan -

Just as an FYI, the reason the Senate included the Paul Wellstone bill was to try and finally get mental health and addiction parity legislation passed this year. It has come very far this year after advocates have been fighting for this legislation, which ends discrimination in insurance coverage, for 12 years. This bill is a legacy bill for Senator Wellstone, and it is incredible that it has remained at the top of the national agenda with a financial crisis and a presidential election creating a crowded political field.

Wellstone's son, David, is in support of this action because it means that this legislation, which would be so important to his father, will finally get passed.

Just wanted you to know that this isn't political trickery.

Posted by: elanar at October 2, 2008 12:16 PM

Whatever the validity of your larger point might be, I think your story is inaccurate.

First, it is not appropriations measures that must originate in the House, but rather "Bills for raising Revenue," U.S. Const. Art. I, § 7. In other words, the Constitution requires that bills to *get* money start in the House; bills to *spend* money can start anywhere. (There might be restrictions on this outside the Constitution -- in statutes or House or Senate rules. I don't have information about that.)

Second, I'm really not sure about this, but I think all pending bills automatically die at the end of a congressional session, and then they have to be reintroduced when the next session opens. If that's right, it would not be possible to "renovate" a bill from 2002 to get something passed in 2008.

Posted by: LawyerDave at October 2, 2008 01:03 PM

elanar & LawyerDave,

I don't see the significance of everything I wrote, both factually and in terms of analysis, being completely wrong.

Indeed, the way you've focused on reality and rationality makes me suspect you've strayed from the One True Faith. Obviously I'm not threatening you, but you should be aware that The People may be filled with outrage at your deviationism, and I won't be able to hold them back despite my best efforts.

I'm just saying. Feel free to recant at any moment.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 2, 2008 01:35 PM

i'm not about to read the 400 page bill, but can someone who has, or at least knows someone who has, tell us if the mental health parity and addiction equity act language stayed in the bill passed last night by the senate?

if nothing else, the bill being titled "mental health parity and addiction equity act" is an amusing bit of stage-dressing in our american farce.

Posted by: karen marie at October 2, 2008 02:30 PM

Too bad UR senators and UR representatives say EXACTLY sthe same thing. Theyere not gonna read it either. Maybe U should.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 2, 2008 02:41 PM

See comments for why literally everything about this post is wrong.

Don't be so hard on yourself; you totally nailed the spelling of your last name, and lord knows it's easy to botch that one. Well done!

Posted by: John Caruso at October 2, 2008 02:58 PM

If the mental health provisions stayed in the bill, great. But what a sad, sad way for Wellstone's initiative finally to pass.

And doesn't this still have to go to the House and get passed in this exact form? Otherwise the supposedly can't-wait funds have to wait on a conference committee...

Elanar, are you watching closely enough to tell?

Posted by: Nell at October 2, 2008 03:03 PM

Karen Marie and Nell:
Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 was passed by the house.

and passed by the senate yesterday.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 2, 2008 03:12 PM

See comments for why literally everything about this post is wrong.

This sentence is like a Zen koan. Contemplate it for hours and you may find enlightenment.

Posted by: NonyNony at October 2, 2008 04:44 PM

@Rupa Shah and anyone else: The version passed by the Senate is substantially different from that passed by the House earlier, so must now go back to the House in its new form to be passed. Presumably that's the bailout bill that will be voted on tomorrow, Friday. I'll assume unless anyone says otherwise that the original Wellstone provisions stayed in.

If the House amends it at all (and a good amendment would be to sharply lower the amount this administration can disburse before it leaves office), the Senate has to be ready to vote on that newest version right away; otherwise there would have to be a conference committee for reconciling the two versions, which even in the quickest form takes most of a week. So I'm assuming that the Senate will stay in session tomorrow as well, ready to take up the bailout a second time if need be. And Saturday they'll leave town until after the election...

This is such a clusterfsck. The part that I hate most is the repetition of the Bush-Cheney ultimatum/bitch-slap m.o.

Posted by: Nell at October 2, 2008 06:34 PM

It didn't pass in the house, it's going back for a revote cuz the first vote failed. This time with 349 additional pages of bacon bits. The House loves bacon bits.

Posted by: buermann at October 2, 2008 08:50 PM

Well, bacon loves schwarz bits, so there you go.

Posted by: Don Bacon at October 2, 2008 11:42 PM

One other bit of info on this: since Wellstone's death, one of the main promoters of this bill has been Rep. Jim Ramstad of MN -- a moderate Republican and by most accounts a decent guy, and someone with a personal connection to the issue. Ramstad's retiring, and it looks like he's finally getting this bill through before he leaves Congress. As others have noted, politics is a truly bizarre world if it takes a Wall Street collapse to get this passed.

Oh, and btw, the Dem running for Ramstad's seat is very promising:

Posted by: Whistler Blue at October 3, 2008 12:28 PM