This is kind of embarrassing.
A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate's lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.
By pre-empting the House's tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House....
Section 107 of the bill includes a set of fees that are classified as revenue raisers, which are technically taxes under the Constitution. According to a House GOP leadership aide, that section has ruffled the feathers of Ways and Means Committee Democrats, who are expected to use the blue slip process to block completion of the bill.
All made doubly bad by the fact that Harkin warned the Senate about passing an amendment to the bill that would have repealed the controversial 1099 filing provision for small business in the Affordable Care Act. Senators on both sides of the aise wanted to use this bill as the vehicle for the repeal, but it failed for various reason that David details in the linked post. Harkin opposed putting this amendment in this bill because of precisely this reason: it would have violated the constitutional requirement that tax provisions originate in the House. Oops.
As it stands now, the House is going to have to pass a new version of the bill this week to send back to the Senate.
The Iowa Democrat said that he has spoken with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders and that he hopes the chamber will pass a new version of the bill to send to the Senate before the end of the week.
“We’re working on it now. I think we can get it done soon ... hopefully before the end of the week,” said Harkin, who authored the bill’s language.
But he acknowledged that Republicans could filibuster the measure, forcing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to file cloture and burn several more days on a measure that has already consumed much of the lame-duck session.