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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over inconsistent versions of budget bill

[JURIST] A federal judge Friday dismissed [text, PDF] a lawsuit filed [JURIST report] by Public Citizen [advocacy website] arguing that a $39 billion deficit-reduction bill passed by Congress was unconstitutional because the House version [text] and Senate version [PDF text] actually signed by the President were slightly different. The inconsistency was the result of an error made by the Senate clerk, who altered text in the House version of the legislation regarding the duration of Medicare payments for certain types of medical equipment, putting down 36 months instead of 13, the figure that House and Senate negotiators had agreed. The House narrowly approved the bill with the 36-month provision, but the President's signed version contained the Senate number. Public Citizen argued that the different versions violated the Bicameral Clause [text] of the US Constitution. Citing a 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Marshall Field & Co. v. Clark [text via FindLaw], Judge John D. Bates [official profile] stated that "when a violation of the bicameral requirement is alleged, the signatures of the presiding officers of each chamber of Congress and the President on the enrolled bill is a 'complete and unimpeachable' authentication that the bicameral requirement has been satisfied."

Three other cases challenging the validity of the deficit-reduction bill are pending. AP has more.

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