It seems there is no bottom to the depths the House Democrat Leadership will plumb in search of a way to defeat American popular opinion and pass Obamacare.
The new low involves bypassing an actual House vote on the Senate Obamacare bill. It appears the Democrats simply don’t have the votes to pass the bill on an up-or-down basis, and the problem is getting worse as time goes forward.
There are far too many House Democrats who simply can’t stomach the Senate bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to get to 216 “yes” votes on that bill, and right now she probably only barely has 200. Pelosi’s only real chance of making this happen is to satisfy the Democrat “no’s” that if they vote “yes” they’ll be able to get a supplemental bill through both houses that will fix the objectionable parts of the Senate bill.
This, of course, is a sucker play, because if the House passes the Senate bill the President can immediately sign it into law and any “fix” could be tossed into the dumpster. Those Democrat “no’s” understand this, and so do some of the “yes” votes who are now wavering.
What to do? Just pass a bill with all of the “fixes” included in it, say that it’s the Senate bill, and start the reconciliation process. The House would then “deem” the Senate bill passed in such a case.
House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.
Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.
Slaughter has not taken the plan to Speaker Pelosi as Democrats await CBO scores on the corrections bill. “Once the CBO gives us the score we’ll spring right on it,” she said. . . .
House members are concerned the Senate could fail to approve the corrections bill, making them nervous about passing the Senate bill with its much-maligned sweetheart deals for certain states.
“We’re well beyond that,” Pelosi said Tuesday, though she did not clarify.
Slaughter, you might remember, was the purveyor of this bauble at the Blair House Project a couple of weeks ago:
She’s also famous for her opinion of town hall meetings:
Slaughter, as head of the House Rules Committee, is in a position to define representative democracy as it relates to the passage of major legislation. Given her statements about democracy as it relates to town halls, is it really a surprise that she would endorse a plan to twist the definition of a bill’s passage into a balloon poodle?
UPDATE: National Review’s Daniel Foster notes that Slaughter’s Rules Committee has played the “self-executing rule” game before in “deeming” a bill passed so as to further Democrat policies. Foster quotes Don Wolfensberger of Roll Call in describing how this was done to squeeze the Waxman-Markey Cap And Trade bill though the House…
The [cap-and-trade] bill went to the House Rules Committee on Thursday, June 25. Of the 224 amendments filed with the committee, only one was cleared for floor consideration — an amendment in the nature of a substitute by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.). The Rules Committee turned down the Republican substitute offered by Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) on grounds that it was not compliant with the pay-as-you-go rules (and reportedly had a shot at being adopted).
Moreover, the special rule, reported at 3:47 a.m. Friday, ditched the entire Energy Committee bill as reported in favor of a new bill introduced by Waxman on June 22 (without benefit of a summary explanation) and self-executed its adoption along with a further 309-page amendment by Waxman. (A self-executing rule avoids a separate debate and vote on amendments.)
Despite the fact that few Members had a clue as to what was in the new bill as modified by Waxman’s amendment, the rule was called up just six hours after it had been reported. The rule squeaked by, 217-205, and the bill subsequently passed later that day by an even slimmer margin, 219-212.
UPDATE: NRO’s James Geraghty catches it on the sweet spot in today’s Morning Jolt:
Is this a legislative maneuver, or a twisted joke? National Journal reported, “House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday. Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.”
Dave Schnittger in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office sounds the alarm: “The Slaughter Solution is a plan by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Democratic chair of the powerful House Rules Committee and a key ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to get the health care legislation through the House without an actual vote on the Senate-passed health care bill. You see, Democratic leaders currently lack the votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill through the House. Under Slaughter’s scheme, Democratic leaders will overcome this problem by simply ‘deeming’ the Senate bill passed in the House — without an actual vote by members of the House.”
NRO’s Daniel Foster: “Indeed, a similar trick has been used to increase the national debt for years, under the so-called ‘Gephardt Rule’ (House Rule XXVII) adopted by the last House Democratic majority. The rule states that upon passage of each year’s budget resolution, a concurrent resolution raising the debt limit by the amount required in that budget is automatically considered passed, thus sparing members separate, potentially embarrassing votes on increasing government borrowing. Unlike in the Senate, where individual Senators have broad discretion to steer debate and introduce amendments, the legislative process in the House is rigidly governed by the Rules Committee. This limits the Republicans’ options in fighting a self-executing rule for Obamacare. As one Republican House staffer put it to me today, ‘the Rules Committee can do just about anything if they can get the votes to pass the rule.’ And the Senate was supposed to be undemocratic, right?”
Newt Gingrich reacts, “Incredible. We’ve gone from passing bills without reading them to passing bills without voting on them.”
Are they out of their minds? What, the town hall meetings of last summer were too genteel and conciliatory for House Democrats’ tastes? Trying some sort of stunt like this in order to pass a bill without actually making members vote for it — that’s the sort of thing that takes “armed insurrection” talk out of the realm of chat rooms. We’ve long suspected that the Constitution means nothing to our counterparts on the left, but the idea of working around the requirement that bills be passed by the House strikes a new and disturbing we’ve-lost-democracy note.
To say nothing of how ridiculous this talk makes Obama’ s current “the time for talk is over, it’s time to vote” rhetoric sound.