After two years of internal wrangling confronting the traditional and yielding collaboration and coordination between the House of Representatives and the Senate, members of the House of Representatives have finally decided to protest – threatening to reject all “financial instruments” emanating from the Senate.
On Tuesday, January 14–the 2nd day sitting of the 3rd Session, the House of Representatives flexed its constitutional muscles, through an amended motion from Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous M. Gray, recommending rejection of concurrence with the Senate’s Engrossed Bill #41, titled: “An Act to Ratify the Concession Agreement between the National Port Authority and Prista Port Buchanan LLC.”
The Lower House’s constitutional fight is in consonance with Article 34 (i) of the 1986 Constitution, “all revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.”
Representative Gray, Acting Chairman on the House’s Executive Committee, argued that the House of Representatives has the “power to initiate all bills related to finances.”
The Montserrado County lawmaker’s un-readied amendment to the motion, made by Gbapolu County District #2 Representative Kanie Wesso to adopt Tuesday’s agenda, ended in confusion, with lawmakers on divided sides calling for the amendment to be accepted while others called for the contrary.
Representative Francis Dopoh: “This cannot continue and will not continue, financial bills are initiated by the House of Representatives.” Rep. Ellen Attoh Wreh added: “This year should be a different year; we will not continue to tolerate constitutional violations.”
Howbeit, during the arguments, a motion for executive (secret session) was made by Rep. Edwin M. Snowe and was seconded.
After about three hours of Executive session, it was established that a similar bill was submitted to the House of Representatives and the Joint Committee on Judiciary and Ways, Means and Finance was tasked to report to Plenary during the 2nd Session of 2019.
In an opened session, the Committee on Investment was included to form a part of the Joint Committee, which resulted in another confusion, but because of the Speaker’s insistence, the Joint Committee is expected to report in one week.
There have been reports that revenue bills or related financial bills over years have mostly been emanating from the Senate, something that the House of Representatives has been silent about, probably to correct the constitutional violations. However, because the violation from the Senate persists, this has prompted members of the Independent Legislative Caucus (ILC) to register disappointments, including Representative Larry Younquoi, Francis Dopoh, and Hanson Kiazolu, with the latest being Representative Gray.
During the formal reception of the opening of the 3rd session of the 54th Legislature on Monday, President Pro Tempore Albert Chie openly apologized and vowed to transmit appropriate bills to the House of Representatives to originate from there.