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DOJ moves to dismiss House Democrat lawsuit over erroneous budget bill

[JURIST] The US Justice Department [official website] on Tuesday asked a federal judge in Detroit to dismiss a lawsuit [complaint, DOC] brought by eleven Democrats from the US House of Representatives seeking to halt the implementation of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [PDF text]. The law was signed by President Bush [press release; fact sheet] in February, but identical versions of the legislation were not passed by both the House and Senate due to a clerical error. The Justice Department argued that the House Democrats, led by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) [official website], lacked standing to challenge the deficit-reducing law because the House Democrats do not rent medical equipment and are not affected by the medical equipment included in the section of the bill containing a clerical error. In the lawsuit, the Democrats accused Republican leaders of abusing the legislative process, saying the Republicans denied Democrats their right to vote on the bill before President Bush signed it into law.

The bill sets the duration of Medicare payments for certain types of medical equipment at 13 months, the figure agreed on by House and Senate negotiators. The House version of the legislation contained a clerical error, setting the relevant time limit at 36 months, but the error was corrected when the bill was transmitted to the president for signature. President Bush signed the Senate version using 13 months, and House leaders certified the final version of the bill before sending it to the White House. House Democrats first brought the challenge in April [JURIST report]. Other challenges to the law are pending, including a lawsuit [PDF complaint; JURIST report] was filed in March by consumer protection organization Public Citizen [advocacy website]. Public Citizen has asked the US District Court for the District of Columbia to declare the law unconstitutional under the Bicameral Clause [text]. AP has more.

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