A syndicated newspaper columnist accuses Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley of violating the U.S. Constitution through an amendment to the immigration bill that would generate revenue through a “stealth tax hike.” Grassley says the Chicago Sun-Times’ Robert Novak makes an interesting case, but says there was nothing “underhanded” in what transpired.

Grassley says: “There is a tax provision on the immigration bill and technically, even though it’s three or four sentences out of a 150-page bill, it involves taxes and under the Constitution, any tax provision must originate in the House of Representatives.” Grassley, a Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, says everything contained in the amendment was done in full public view. He predicts it will not be defeated based on what Grassley calls a technicality.

Grassley says: “This is a Senate bill going to the House and the House can reject it if they want to because of that Constitutional provision, but in that particular instance, I think it’s such a small part of the bill that they would not do it, assuming that they want an excuse not to deal with the Senate bill at all.” The amendment was designed to force illegal immigrants to pay “outstanding tax liabilities.”

Novak also blasts another provision that would tax all Americans living abroad. Grassley defends that action. Grassley says: “On the other provision, it’s not a violation of the Constitution. That was put in as an offset. You could argue about the tax policy but you can’t argue about anything being unconstitutional about what we’re doing. So otherwise, I can’t account for Novak not paying attention to what we were doing.”

Americans living out of the country would pay over two-billion dollars more in taxes over the next decade under Grassley’s proposal. Novak’s column ran nationwide on Monday. To read it, surf to “www.suntimes.com”.