40 House Republicans: Obamacare Has an Origination Problem

Franks is pushing a new case to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Franks is pushing a new case to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted November 12, 2013 at 7:08pm

Some Republicans are going back to an old refrain about Obamacare: It’s unconstitutional.

While the GOP has long argued that the law is not permitted per the nation’s founding documents, the Supreme Court almost entirely upheld the law in June 2012. But it’s that Supreme Court decision itself that has 40 House Republicans eager for their day in court.

Republicans filed an amicus brief over the weekend with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, hopeful that because the Supreme Court ruled the health care law a tax, and because, they say, the bill originated in the Senate, a court will rule that the 2010 health care law violates the Constitution’s Origination Clause.

“All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution reads.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who is leading the Origination Clause charge, issued a press release Tuesday decrying the law and explaining the argument.

“If the Senate can introduce the largest tax increase in American history by simply peeling off the House number from a six-page unrelated bill, which does not raise taxes, and pasting it on the ‘Senate Health Care Bill,’ and then claim with a straight face that the resulting bill originated in the House … then the American ‘rule of law’ has become no rule at all,” Franks said in the release, quoting the brief.

But it’s precisely what the Senate did that helped avert any so-called “blue slip problems” with the House, because the bill actually did originate in the House. The Senate took the language of a House-passed bill that would have provided tax credits to veterans purchasing homes and replaced it with the 2,074-page Affordable Care Act.

Franks, however, argues that the original veterans bill did not raise revenue and was “wholly-unrelated” to the health care law, therefore violating the Origination Clause. Neither argument, however, seems to have ever had much traction in the past; bills need only to deal with taxation, not raising revenue, to avoid an Origination Clause problem, and Article 1, Section 7 notes that “the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” That would include amending, as is common practice, an entire bill.

Still, Franks and the 39 other Republicans who have signed the amicus brief appear ever hopeful the argument will strike down the law.

Franks recently took to the House floor to say that if the courts don’t strike down the health care law for violating the Origination Clause, “it would allow the Obama administration to blow yet another hole in the constitutional fabric of this noble republic.”

The 40 Republican members to sign the brief are:

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota
  • Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas
  • Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
  • Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma
  • Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama
  • Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio
  • Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas
  • Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina
  • Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee
  • Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana
  • Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas
  • Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland
  • Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas
  • Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina
  • Rep. Steve King of Iowa
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado
  • Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio
  • Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky
  • Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina
  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas
  • Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico
  • Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina
  • Rep. Trey Radel of Florida
  • Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee
  • Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana
  • Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona
  • Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina
  • Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona
  • Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana
  • Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska
  • Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan
  • Rep. Randy Weber of Texas
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio
  • Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia
  • Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia
  • Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida