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Defunding laws you dislike is not constitutional

Yesterday morning on ABC’s “This Week,” Newt Gingrich and I debated whether House Republicans should be able to repeal a law — in this case, the Affordable Care Act — by defunding it. Here’s the essence:

GINGRICH: Under our constitutional system, going all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, the people’s house is allowed to say to the king we ain’t giving you money.

REICH: Sorry, under our constitutional system you’re not allow to risk the entire system of government to get your way.

Had we had more time I would have explained to the former speaker something he surely already knows: The Affordable Care Act was duly enacted by a majority of both houses of Congress, signed into law by the president, and even upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution of the United States does not allow a majority of the House of Representatives to repeal the law of the land by defunding it. If that were the case, no law is safe. A majority of the House could get rid of unemployment insurance, federal aid to education, Social Security, Medicare, or any other law they didn’t like merely by deciding not to fund them.

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