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In case it's not clear, it's like this: the House and Senate have to propose (each by a 2/3 vote) exactly the same text before the Amendment is open for ratification by the states. The House has already approved one version by a 2/3 vote, and this is the version which, thus far, has been under debate in the Senate. So if this exact version is approveed by 2/3 of the Senate, the Amendment goes directly to the states.
But in order to pick up the last few essential undecided votes in the Senate (and avoid a few potential defections, including Feinstein, who says she will vote yes but is still considered on the fence, as is often the case with her) the sponsors may have to amend the proposal slightly.
The key amendment to the proposal for the amendment (don't you just love parliamentary procedure?) would change "the Congress and the states shall have the power..." to "the Congress shall have the power". Some Senators have been using as an excuse for their doubts about the amendment the confusion and difficulty in knowing the local law that would result form the existance of 50 different state laws that potentially could each define "flag", "physical", and "desecration" differently. The amendment to the amendment would eliminate this objection (which is really a minor side issue anyway, IMHO).
If an amended version of the amendment not is approved by 2/3 of the Senate, either the House would have to approve (by 2/3) the Senate version or a compromise worked out and approved by 2/3 of both chambers in identical form. The House vote was so far above 2/3, however, that it is extremely unlikely that the House wouldn't immediately pass the Senate version. If the Senate votes Tuesday for an amended amendment, I could the final House vote within a day or two thereafter.
If no version of the amendment can get 2/3 of the Senate, the proposal can (and probably will) be reintroduced at any time in the future.... "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."
[from the Congressional Record]
FLAG DESECRATION CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
(Senate - December 08, 1995)
Mr. MACK. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the following amendments be the only amendments in order to Senate Joint Resolution 31, and they must be offered and debated during Monday's session of the Senate: McConnell, relevant substitute; Hatch, two relevant amendments; Biden, relevant; Feinstein, relevant; Hollings, two relevant amendments.
I further ask that at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 12, there be 1 hour 40 minutes for closing debate, to be equally divided in the usual form, and the votes occur on or in relation to the amendments beginning at 2:17 p.m., with the first vote limited to the standard 15 minutes and all remaining stacked votes limited to 10 minutes in length, with 2 minutes for debate prior to the votes for explanation to be equally divided in the usual form.
I further ask unanimous consent that following the disposition of the amendments, the joint resolution be read for a third time and a final vote occur immediately without any intervening action or debate.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. MACK. In light of this agreement, there will be no rollcall votes during Monday's session of the Senate and any votes ordered with respect to amendments and the final vote will occur beginning at 2:17 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12, 1995.
Warren S. Apel