Policy-ish

What Health Overhaul And First-Time Homebuyers Have In Common

Having trouble finding the Senate health debate in your handy issue of the Congressional Record or online?

A couple looks at their first home. i i

Is our health insurance in there too? iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
A couple looks at their first home.

Is our health insurance in there too?

iStockphoto.com

There's a simple reason why. The Senate isn't technically debating the bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a few weeks back, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Nor, in fact, are senators debating that "Affordable Health Care for America Act," the bill that passed the House last month.

What's actually on the Senate floor now is H.R. 3590, "an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the armed forces and certain other federal employees, and for other purposes."

Come again?

There's actually a logical (well, logical by congressional standards) explanation. Under the Constitution, (yes, that Constitution) revenue bills must start in the House. Since the health bill has taxes in it, it's considered a revenue bill.

Normally, the Senate would simply take the House-passed health bill, strip out the House's language, insert its own, then go on to the debate. But the House's health bill was SO controversial in the Senate that Majority Leader Reid decided instead to find another House-passed tax bill (hence, the home-buyers credit), to which to append the Senate health language.

Don't worry, it will all shake out in the end. Or maybe not, depending which side of the debate you're on.

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