Blue Slip Poison Pill

Is detail relevant? Are facts important?

In a political field with overwhelming bias and a dearth of investigative journalism, what seems most important is the “message”, whether or not it is correct. Few people check beneath the surface. Here is what appears to be a fascinating example using the highly touted Senate immigration bill. Supposedly S744 has been languishing in the House ever since it was passed with a bipartisan vote in the Senate. Boehner allegedly has refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the House, thereby thwarting the Senate and blocking immigration reform. This damning version of events has been repeated endlessly by the press and by the Democrats. Interestingly, it appears to NOT be correct.  According to  Jason Chaffetz, soon to be head of Ways and Means,  the bill has never been officially presented to the House for their consideration, making it impossible for the House to act. This claim was just made by Representative Chaffetz  (11/20/14 On the Record with Greta Van Susteren: and is consistent with earlier background information that is available on the internet. (E.g., )  


We have all heard of pink slips, but blue slips represent a less well known concept. It turns out that Senator Reid may have used a time honored poison pill–the blue slip.  Perhaps he used it inadvertently.  By inserting a revenue-generating provision in any document arising in the Senate, that bill can be successfully challenged on its constitutionality and immediately returned from the House.  But, the blue slip provision can result in an immediate return to the Senate only if the Senate officially presents the bill to the House for consideration. Chaffetz claims that was not done.


A bipartisan immigration bill was indeed passed by the Senate, but that bill contained a revenue generating provision that guaranteed its immediate return.  By not presenting the bill the immigration issue was kept politically alive, allowed the Senate to claim that they had passed a bipartisan immigration bill in the Senate,  and guaranteed that the House Republicans could be blamed for not passing the bill as long as the press didn’t bother with the details like whether the bill was actually presented for consideration.  Here is how the blue slip works, from an earlier Senate bill that likewise had similar (intentional?) problems.  Succinctly: “If the Senate, either intentionally or inadvertently, originates a revenue-raising bill, any Member of the House has the option of calling up a “blue-slip resolution” (named after the color of paper it is printed on after passage) to send the measure back to the Senate. The resolution gets immediate consideration as a matter of constitutional privilege, is debatable for an hour and is not subject to amendment (though it may be tabled or referred to committee).” from  It appears that Senator Reid, realizing that the House would simply return the bill, apparently did not believe the bill would pass the Senate with the revenue generating provisions removed and correctly believed that the Republicans could be blamed for failure to act.  According to Chaffetz, Reid’s solution to this politically sensitive issue was quite simple–the bill was never officially presented for consideration by the House.   


***Gary A. Howie MSc, PhD*** is a business owner/rancher and a Life & Liberty News contributor

gary howie



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *