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Judge dismisses House Democrats lawsuit over budget bill signed with clerical error

[JURIST] US District Judge Nancy Edmunds Monday dismissed [ruling, PDF] a lawsuit [complaint, DOC; JURIST report] brought by US House Democrats challenging the validity of a $39 billion deficit-reduction bill. The plaintiffs argued that the measure was invalid since the Senate and House approved two different versions. The version approved by the Senate [PDF text] indicated that Medicare [official website] would be able to rent certain types of medical equipment for 13 months, but the version put before the House [text] said the rentals could last for 36 months, which was a $2 billion discrepancy. The White House and Republican leaders said the mistake was purely technical due to a clerk's error, but 11 House Democrats led by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) [official website], the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee [official website], filed the lawsuit contending the bill should be voided because the House was not given an opportunity to vote on the same legislation considered by the Senate.

The US Department of Justice [official website] moved to dismiss the suit [JURIST report], arguing the House representatives did not have standing to sue since they were not renting the medical equipment and were not in "any way personally affected or injured" by the clerical error. Earlier this year, a federal judge also dismissed [text, PDF] a similar lawsuit filed [JURIST report] by Public Citizen [advocacy website] which argued that the bill was unconstitutional due to the different versions. The law was signed by President Bush [press release; fact sheet] in February. AP has more.

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