This Article is the first comprehensive examination of the original legal force of the Constitution’s Origination Clause, drawing not merely on the records of the 1787-90 constitutional debates, but also on Founding Era British and American legislative practice and other sources. This Article’s findings include the scope of the bills governed by the Clause, the precise meaning of the House origination requirement, and the extent of the Senate’s amendment power.

For illustrative purposes, the Article tests against its findings the claim, currently being litigated, that the financial penalty for failure to acquire health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is invalid as a Senate-originated “tax.” The Article concludes that because the Supreme Court has sustained the penalty as a “tax,” it was a valid Senate amendment to a House-adopted revenue bill. The Article also concludes, however, that the regulatory provisions added to the bill were outside the power of the Senate to amend under the Origination Clause, and therefore are constitutionally invalid.

Rob Natelson