Back when Warner and Inhofe Agreed

In 2000, as Sen. John McCain was advocating campaign finance reform, he proposed an amendment to the defense budget bill that required disclosures by 527 committees. The New York Times covered the issue in this story, including this passage:

Critics of the bill mostly sidestepped a fight on the merits of the measure, retreating behind procedural arguments and dire warnings of damage to national security to oppose the bill.

Two Senate Republicans, John W. Warner of Virginia and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, praised the substance of Mr. McCain’s amendment, but said its passage would doom the entire military bill.

That was because the House Ways and Means Committee today warned that the amendment amounted to a revenue measure because it involved possible changes in the tax status of political groups. Under the Constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House.

”You’d have my vote,” said Mr. Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. ”But this amendment will torpedo this bill and send it to the bottom of the sea where only Davy Jones could resurrect it.”

Yes, indeed, as we noted yesterday, under the Constititution, all revenue bills must originate in the House. And apparently Warner and Inhofe regarded the constitutionality of even a relatively minor revenue change to be a serious obstacle to legislative action back in 2000.

CBO’s budget analysis says Lieberman-Warner would raise $902 billion from 2009-2018. That’s a major revenue bill, seems to us, and according to the U.S. Constitution, should originate in the House.

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