Critical Condition

Another Constitutional Oddity

One other area of the constitution about which Obamacare raises new questions is the presentment clause:  “Every Order, Resolution, or Vote . . . shall be presented to the President of the United States” (Article I, Section 7).

Hundreds of pages into the law comes a section about Indian health. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act has been up for reauthorization for some time. Section 10221 of the new law says:

. . . S. 1790, entitled “A bill to amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to revise and extend that Act, and for other purposes,” as reported by the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate in December 2009, is enacted into law.

This legislation is 276 pages long. For whatever reason, the Senate did not include the full text in the legislation it passed that ultimately made it to President Obama’s desk.

This certainly is a more efficient way to do things. It allows legislation that the president signs to be short and pithy. It conserves paper. Fewer pages to print. If “enactment by reference” became the norm, laws would be ever so short. But does it square with the Constitution?

– Hanns Kuttner is a visiting fellow at Hudson Institute.

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