Democrats Back ‘Deem and Pass’ Strategy Amid Strong GOP Opposition
On Tuesday, the health care reform debate heated up as Democratic leaders defended the use of a legislative maneuver that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate health reform bill (HR 3590) in the chamber without members actually having to vote on it, the Washington Post reports.
Under the special rule, known as the self-executing rule, or "deem and pass," House Democrats could declare the Senate bill as "passed" in the chamber without holding an actual vote on the bill (Goldstein, Washington Post, 3/17).
For the rule to be viable, it would need to be inserted into a budget reconciliation bill that House Democrats are developing as a vehicle for a series of changes they want made to the Senate bill.
The rule would take effect once the House passes the package of fixes or adopts the rules for debate on the reconciliation bill (Herszenhorn/Pear, New York Times, 3/16).
Democrats Defend Maneuver
On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she favors using the rule (Washington Post, 3/17). However, Pelosi on Tuesday declined to specifically endorse its use, instead calling it one option that she and other House Democratic leaders are considering (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/16).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also defended the possible use of the "deem and pass" maneuver, noting that it is consistent with congressional rules and former practices (New York Times, 3/16).
House Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said the maneuver has been use since 1933 and challenged Republican assertions that it is unconstitutional (Roll Call, 3/16).
Republicans Counter With Criticism of Rule
GOP members of Congress have said the "deem and pass" approach is unprecedented and allows Democrats to avoid a difficult vote on the Senate bill (Fabian , "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/16).
Some Republicans also have portrayed Democrats' possible use of the maneuver as a parliamentary trick (New York Times, 3/16).
GOP To Attempt To Force House Vote on Senate Bill
On Tuesday, Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.) said he would introduce a resolution that would force Democrats to schedule a regular vote on the Senate bill, the Washington Post's "44" reports (Pershing, "44," Washington Post, 3/16).
Michael Steel -- spokesperson for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- said that if the resolution is passed by the House, Pelosi would be barred from implementing the maneuver to override a straight roll call vote (Herszenhorn, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.