Rep. Dave Camp
Rep. Dave Camp

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Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the Senate’s comprehensive amnesty bill (S. 744) is unconstitutional because only bills originating in the House can raise revenues. The Senate has not officially transmitted S. 744 to the House yet but Camp’s statement implies he will move to prevent the House from taking up the bill when that occurs.

The U.S. Constitution provides that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” To implement this provision, the House developed a procedure called a “Blue Slip” to kill any revenue-raising bill that originates in the Senate.  The House can pass a resolution providing for a blue slip but, as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Camp has the ability to issue one himself. On July 10th the official House and Ways Means Committee Twitter account tweeted “Chairman Camp: Senate immigration bill a revenue bill; unconstitutional and cannot be taken up by the House.”

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) had been pushing House members to support a blue slip should the Senate transmit S. 744. In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Members, Stockman noted that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had not sent the bill to the House and concluded that the reason was fear of a blue slip.

Stockman’s letter said, “Even Harry Reid now admits the Senate’s amnesty bill is unconstitutional and cannot become law…By creating their own amnesty taxes Senate Democrats broke the rules. Senate Democrats were so hell-bent on ramming through a gift to radical political activists they didn’t bother to check if it was even legal….They got caught trying to sneak an illegal bill past the Constitution’s borders.”

Stockman pointed to Section 2102 of the bill, which “requires the payment of certain taxes and forgives the payment of other taxes as a condition of receiving amnesty and other benefits.” The Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the bill also notes “enacting S. 744 would have a wide range of effects on federal revenues, including changes in collections of income and payroll taxes, certain visa fees that are classified as revenues, and various fines and penalties. Taken together, those effects would increase revenues by $459 billion over the 2014-2023 period, according to estimates by JCT and CBO.”

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