Email, Erin Havener, press assistant, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, Feb. 25, 2014
Congressman Smith: “My bill did not fund Obamacare, nor did it have anything to do with Obamacare. The bill (H.R. 3547) that I sponsored was a much smaller bill that simply extended for one year a NASA program to protect space launch companies from excessive liability costs. Because my bill originated in the House, and passed both the House and the Senate, it was then used as a ‘legislative vehicle’ to expedite the legislative process. Under the Constitution, all spending bills must originate in the House, and due to Senate procedural reasons, it was used as the legislative vehicle for the larger omnibus appropriations bill. While the bill number remained the same as my original bill, the spending bill included many new provisions. I only drafted the very small NASA portion of the bill – the rest of the bill language came from members of Congress who are on the Appropriations Committee. For reference, here is a link to my very short original bill. Furthermore, the final appropriations bill that the House approved did not include any new funding for Obamacare.”
Additional Information on Parliamentary Procedure:
· H.R. 3547 was chosen as the legislative vehicle for the Omnibus appropriations because it was the only bill available to do so at the time since it had passed the House once and had been amended by the Senate and sent back to the House for further consideration. The omnibus appropriation language was added to it to expedite the process for consideration of the omnibus provisions in the Senate.
· A bill that comes back from the House with amendment is privileged so the question of whether to consider that bill is generally not subject to debate. The bill itself is still subject to debate but the question of whether to consider the bill is not.
· Page 4-5 of the Congressional Resource Services report explains this in great detail. Below is a quote from that report that summarizes the situation:
o “On occasion, the House has sent what is effectively a new legislative proposal to the Senate in the form of a House amendment; this is sometimes done in part because House amendments, unlike House bills, can be called up in the Senate without debate.”