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This Is What Nancy Should Have Done on FISA

Josh marvels at the (big surprise) latest galling corruption from a member of the Alaska delegation: Don Young snuck an earmark into a 2005 bill after it had been passed by both houses of Congress, but before Bush signed it.

The ‘Coconut Road’ earmark wasn’t in the bill passed by the Houseand Senate. I don’t mean it wasn’t in the original bills before theywent to conference (where the separate bills from the House and theSenate are reconciled into a single bill). It wasn’t in the final,reconciled piece of legislation passed by both houses of Congress after conference. 

But it is there now. 

So here’s what happened. Apparently Young added the text afterCongress had already passed it but before the president signed it. AsLaura McGann explainsin this post, this must have occurred during the process called "billenrollment" when revisions of grammar and technical but not substantivechanges are permitted to be made.

The president did sign the bill. But the portion apparentlyadded by Young, if I understand anything about our system ofgovernment, was never passed by Congress. So it means nothing.

He goes on to ask how common it is.

The details aren’t entirely clear from Laura McGann’s reporting on this. But the scheme may, in fact, be legal (or at least have legal precedent) based on a ruling issued by John Bates last year. At issue was a fiscal bill from the previous year, which passed in slightly different form in the House and the Senate. It included some politically controversial items (and passed only with typical Republican arm-twisting). So rather than pass the bill for real, BushCo just picked one and signed it into law.

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