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Govt-Paid Viagra for Pedophiles?

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How many Senators would vote against an amendment "to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists"? A majority, it turns out, when the legislative stars are uniquely aligned.

We haven't discussed the political circus over the health care bill here at C&C, because it has been almost entirely off-topic for the blog. However, Kimberly Strassel raises the odd rejection of the above amendment in this piece in the WSJ.

This legislative oddity arises when a hotly contested bill passes one house, and the sponsors concluded they must pass it as-is in the other house without a single amendment. An amendment means a conference committee and further proceedings in both houses, and bills that have narrowly passed once sometimes die in that process.

Strassel's piece gives me a feeling of deja vu.  The process she describes is very much like what happened with habeas reform.

Fifteen years ago, we were on the threshold of passing a landmark reform of habeas corpus as chapter 1 of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. When I saw the product of the Hatch-Specter negotiations, I had some comments. Actually, I had a lot of comments. The Senate staffers told me that they couldn't make any changes because the coalition they had in the Senate was too fragile. Not to worry, though, the problems would be fixed in the House where the Gingrich crew was in complete control.

When the bill got to the House, I was told that the habeas chapter had to be passed exactly as it passed the Senate in order to keep it off the agenda of the conference committee. Many times in the 43 years since Brown v. Allen, legislation to correct that decision had passed one house or the other, but the opponents of reform always managed to kill it, and the conference committee was a prime killing field. The language we have in 28 U.S.C. ยง2254(d) was the best we were going to get, and we couldn't risk it to fix other problems in less important sections of the law.

So AEPDA became law, warts and all. Lots of warts. We have spent much of the time since then trying to fix the problems judicially. We have had considerable success, but justice would have been surer and swifter if we could have fixed the legislation at birth.

Ah well. As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.

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For more on the parliamentary procedures that result in these so-called "poison pills" like the rapist/viagra amendment, check out this informative article in Slate:

http://www.slate.com/id/2219907/

Senator Coburn just doesnt want the taxpayers to fund Viagra for sex offenders. Apparently, Dems have no issues with John Q. Taxpayer footing the bill for that. Surprise, surprise.

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