Emily Larsen, DCNF
The National Liberty Federation posted a meme on Facebook Jan. 11 that claimed the first three bills introduced by House Democrats were to impeach President Donald Trump, ban the electoral college and give $54 billion in foreign aid.
“The first 3 bills introduced in the House by Democrats:
Impeach the president
Ban the electoral college
$54 billion in foreign aid
Nothing on healthcare or our safety,” the meme read.
While House Democrats did introduce these measures on the first day of the new congressional session, they were not technically the first three bills introduced. Democrats also introduced several bills dealing with health care and safety on the first day of the session.
According to the Congressional Record, 218 public bills, two private bills and 44 resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives on the first day of the 116th Congress, Jan. 3.
“The bills were introduced in numeric order with H.R.1 being the first, and H.R.21 being the second bill, followed by H.R. 22 to H.R.23,” the Law Library of Congress told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “The Joint Resolutions were introduced next, again in number order, followed by the two House concurrent resolutions, and finally the House resolutions 1-21 were introduced.”
The first three bills with Democratic primary sponsors to be introduced were the For the People Act, which addresses gerrymandering, campaign finance and ethics rules; the Consolidated Appropriations Act, a government funding bill that includes funding for foreign aid; and the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that deals with sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
While the Consolidated Appropriations Act was one of the first three Democrat-sponsored bills introduced and includes $54.4 billion for State Department operations and programs, not all that money would be for foreign aid to other countries. FactCheck.org reported that about $16 billion would go towards the agency’s operations. The bill passed the House Jan. 3.
The electoral college and impeachment measures mentioned in the meme were not among the first three bills introduced, but they were, however, submitted on the first day of the congressional session.
Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee sponsored a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, sponsored a resolution to impeach Trump. Sherman previously introduced articles of impeachment in 2017.
Joint resolutions are very similar to bills – they have the power of law and require a presidential signature. Simple resolutions, on the other hand, address matters within a single chamber of Congress and do not have the force of law.
“If you exclude resolutions, then you exclude impeachment because that’s a simple resolution,” Joshua Tauberer, creator of GovTrack, told TheDCNF in an email. “The claim seems to be talking about both bills and resolutions. That’s fine – even on GovTrack we call resolutions ‘bills’ when we’re talking about bills and resolutions together.”
Tauberer said that, ultimately, it isn’t all that important which bills were introduced first.
“In the end, the order doesn’t really matter much,” he said. “Bills are submitted by individual members and when each member gets their bills in doesn’t necessarily reflect the position of the House Democrats as a whole, and certainly not the House Democratic leadership (who, so far, have not [supported] a resolution of impeachment).”
The meme also suggested that Democrats did not prioritize any measures that deal with health care or safety. On Jan. 3, however, Democrats introduced a bill regarding dental care for Veterans Affairs, a joint resolution that seeks to establish health care as a constitutional right and a bill to prevent firearm sales by unlicensed dealers at gun shows.
The National Liberty Federation did not respond to requests for comment.
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