Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 16, 2010

THE IOKIYAR RULE, PROCEDURAL EDITION.... For a while, Republicans were awfully worked up about using the reconciliation process to pass a health-care related budget fix, despite the GOP's repeated use of the same procedure. Now Republicans are headed for the fainting couch over use of the self-executing rule, despite the GOP's repeated reliance on the same procedure.

After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate's health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it.

Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers "deem" the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic -- known as a "self-executing rule" or a "deem and pass" -- has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill.

We talked yesterday about how this would work. In a nutshell, the House would vote once -- approving the sidecar measure and "deeming" the Senate bill as having passed. The Senate bill would then head to the White House for a signature, while the budget fix would head to the Senate.

As expected, the responding tantrum is nearing full force. The WSJ editorial page is outraged; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is suggesting laws approved through the self-executing rule aren't laws that Americans have to follow; and assorted GOP voices, on and off the Hill, are characterizing the deem-and-pass approach as unconstitutional.

Of particular interest were complaints from Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Rules Committee, who called use of the self-executing rule "very painful and troubling." It's interesting -- Dreier found the rule neither painful nor troubling when he used it in 2006.

Indeed, while the deem-and-pass approach used to be rare, its use became far more common 15 years ago -- right after Republicans took over Congress. Don Wolfensberger, former chief of staff for the House Rules Committee under Republicans, explained in a column a few years ago, "When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)."

It's a familiar pattern -- Republicans open doors, and then whine incessantly when Democrats walk through them.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

I for one will support the republican whining about procedures when they put a bill forward repealing the Bush tax cuts passed by same procedures. I will eat my hat when they retroactively collect the back taxes.

Posted by: the seal on March 16, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I love that the Democratic leadership is finally acting clever. And I can't get enough of the GOP pearl-clutching it's causing.

Posted by: ChicagoPat on March 16, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but when the Republicans used it, it was to pass legislation for Real Americans. And we didn't have a black president.

So, it's not the same thing at all.

Posted by: chrenson on March 16, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I don't suppose that Republicans would care to remember these numbers, but Gingrich used this same procedure 90 times during the 104/105, and Hastert applied it 112 times throughout the 106-108. That's a total of 202 times the rule was used by Republicans within a decade.

And the Reich is "on the fainting couch" now? Talk about your daytime soap opera overacting....

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 16, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I do think we have a bit of both sides being a dissembling here. IIRC Waxman and Pelosi filed amicus briefs in support of a Public Citizen suit asking the court to stop the use of this procedure (I don't remember all the details) back during the Bush Administration when the R's had control of the House. So, yes the Republicans are now bitching about a process they frequently used, but Pelosi isn't completely innocent of have "seen the Light" with respect to its use when expedient.

Posted by: The Grand Panjandrum on March 16, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that they're making these procedural arguments is a sign they know they've lost. Nobody cares about these bogus process issues except the ignorant wingnut base, so the GOP leadership are just going through the motions.

The same with pearl-clutching about Dems sacrificing nonexistent House comity.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 16, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Do it Nancy, they call you a ruthless, socialist bitch; it's time to flaunt the gauntlet. Do it madam speaker! Do it!

God damn, doesn't it feel good to stick it in the repugnicant's ear? Sorry Mr. President, save bi-partisanship for your own Democratic party (aka Stupsd, Growsumich, etc.)

Posted by: Trollop on March 16, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I'm second to no one in my contempt for Republican hypocrisy. However, as they are with so much these days, the GOP is completely irrelevant to the real issue at hand. My problem is this - a representative is there to "represent" the people. Agree with him/her or not, you at least have a right to know where s/he stands. To say something is "deemed," but "I didn't really vote for it" is not only weasly, it is dishonest, and it undermines the transparency necessary in a democracy.

Posted by: Geneva Mike on March 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

God damn, doesn't it feel good to stick it in the repugnicant's ear?

Actually, it feel more like impaling them atop sharpened telephone poles. Anally. While they're still alive.

At least, that's what it feels like, if you ask them....

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 16, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Grand Panjandrum - we hear what you're saying, but since the rule was not blocked when referred to the court, and was used hundreds of times, it would be stupid at this point not to work with what you have.

There's quite a difference between "objected to it, lost, had it used against you hundreds of times, finally gave in and used it yourself" and "used it hundreds of times and now object to it being used against you". To suggest that this is "a bit of both sides" is quite a stretch.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on March 16, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that "deem and pass" is a bit weasley, BUT, passing the health care bill is way more important and it only matters to people like me and you who spend too much time thinking about it. I had never heard of reconciliation or the"self executing rule" until this past year and I pay attention to this stuff way more than most people.

In the end, people will know health care passed. They will either be happy with it or they will not.

Posted by: swarty on March 16, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

IIRC Waxman and Pelosi filed amicus briefs in support of a Public Citizen suit asking the court to stop the use of this procedure (I don't remember all the details) back during the Bush Administration when the R's had control of the House.

And what was the outcome of said suit? If it's passed court muster, why not use it? The Republicans don't have valid, reasoned positions, they're just in business of marketing themselves to regain power so they can continue handing out tax cuts to the rich -- this last crash wasn't didn't leave a big enough crater, they want to try again.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 16, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I wasn't didn't edit that very well. Sorry about that.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

OK, so it's good to know this has been used before. I still say, Don't do it. It's not going to give anyone political cover but it is going to be spun as a massive Democratic trick and will further erode public confidence that the government is fair and can work -- and that is the ultimate selling pitch of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on March 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Seconding Dr2Chase here - if it passed court muster, and the GOP is using it, then unless there is some other ethical objection, it's tit for tat.

Bernard: "OK, so it's good to know this has been used before. I still say, Don't do it. It's not going to give anyone political cover but it is going to be spun as a massive Democratic trick and will further erode public confidence that the government is fair and can work -- and that is the ultimate selling pitch of the Democratic Party."

I'd agree, but only if you can find something that the GOP *doesn't* spin as a massive trick.

Posted by: Barry on March 16, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is suggesting laws approved through the self-executing rule aren't laws that Americans have to follow;

I wholeheartedly agree.

Minnesotans in her district should exercise their right to have caps on their insurance, be excluded in perpetuity because of (pre-)exiting conditions, and be cut from the policy if ANY (e.g. acne) undisclosed medical history is overlooked or not 100% accurate, regardless of relevance.

I'm confident the insurance companies they enjoy will offer hefty discounts in exchange for their embrace of freedom.

Palin-Bachman in 2012, bay-bee!!!!

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 16, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"OK, so it's good to know this has been used before. I still say, Don't do it." - Bernard Gilroy

Why not? Do you think the Republicans will never use it again, either?

Posted by: Marko on March 16, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is suggesting laws approved through the self-executing rule aren't laws that Americans have to follow."

There are laws that Americans don't have to follow? Wow! How do you tell the difference?

Or do all Americans have to follow all laws, and Rep. Bachman is being seditious (again).

Posted by: Marko on March 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are the Representatives not representing the people, but now the Speaker and President are going to "deem" it passed without having a vote. This is shocking and sickening. I am tired of the excuse "the Republicans did it before". Bribery and threats are bad. "Deeming" is bad. Using reconciliation is bad. If they thought it was wrong when it was done before, how does it become right when they do it NO ONE should do it. We need to vote out any representative who does not have character and integrity.

Posted by: sickened by our leaders on March 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Dem's should definitely do this, sounds like a rule republicans abused, I think Dem's are way too soft, repub's will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. Dems just need to call them out on these things much more and loudly.
The Dems should push all rebulicans to the right, force it on them, and then expose them.
After all aren't most "terrorists" part of an extreme right wing group of their country or religon?

Posted by: henry on March 16, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

It appears that the Self-executing Rule has been used to pass legislation for generations by both parties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-executing_rule

Awww,, but since the poow wepubwicans got theiw feewings huwt because those mean democwats awe going to wam theiw wegiswation thwough congwess, we'we aww going to cwy - - boo fucking hoo

Posted by: Marko on March 16, 2010 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

The guy/gal who wrote the statement in quotes is a real American jackass. You don't sound like a real American to me. Are you related to Hitler?

"Yeah, but when the Republicans used it, it was to pass legislation for Real Americans. And we didn't have a black president.

So, it's not the same thing at all.

Posted by: chrenson on March 16, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK"


[actually chrenson is a long-time commenter in excellent standing on this site and was employing a rhetorical device known as "sarcasm." --Mod]

Posted by: Millie May on March 16, 2010 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I love to hear the repulsicans moaning and groaning about unfairness, particularly when they have used the same techniques that Demos are using.Glad to see that Demos are giving it back to the repulsicans.

Posted by: Millie May on March 16, 2010 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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