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Tilting at Windmills

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March 20, 2010

TAKING 'DEEM AND PASS' OFF THE TABLE.... The life of the "self-executing rule" on health care reform was fairly brief, but it experienced quite a ride. What started as an obscure and unlikely approach quickly became a favorite of the leadership. From there is became reviled by right-wing activists and the media, and the subject of considerable legal debate.

As it turns out, it looks like the hullabaloo was for naught -- "deem and pass" has apparently been taken off the table.

House leaders have decided to take a separate vote on the Senate health-care bill, rejecting an earlier, much-criticized strategy that would have permitted them to "deem" the unpopular measure passed without an explicit vote.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Saturday that the House would take three votes Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself.

Van Hollen, who has been working on the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said House leaders concluded that that order -- approving the amendments before approving the Senate bill -- makes clear that the House intends to modify the Senate bill and not approve the Senate bill itself.

"Our objective all along was to make it clear that the House is amending the Senate bill, and we found another way of accomplishing that," Van Hollen said in an interview.

Days' worth of hysterical cries about a routine procedure were apparently entirely unnecessary. Oh well.

As a practical matter, if the leadership moves forward with its floor plans tomorrow, there will be three votes -- (1) an up-or-down vote on the rule, which is a standard move for all legislation; (2) an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill, just as Republicans demanded; and (3) an up-or-down vote on the reconciliation budget fix.

I can only assume, then, that Republicans and the media will praise the Democratic leadership for their commitment to a transparent, above-board process, and every conservative who whined incessantly about "demon pass" -- Peggy Noonan, I'm looking in your direction -- will credit Speaker Pelosi for doing the right thing.

Yes, I'm sure that praise will happen any minute now.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

The hullabaloo was for naught as well.

Posted by: leo on March 20, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Days' worth of hysterical cries about a routine procedure were apparently for not.

Or perhaps they were effective?

Posted by: beep52 on March 20, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Jst pass the damn thing already.

Posted by: qwerty on March 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, they could throw darts at the wall, as far as I'm concerned, as long as it would work.

Posted by: jrw on March 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it looks like Pelosi's pretty confident she has the votes. This is good! And although I was disgusted at the way the Republicans tried to demagogue a perfectly accepted procedure that they had frequently used themselves when they were in the majority, this is probably for the best, because now there will be no question about the validity of the vote, or the fact that if it passes, it passed fair and square with a majority.

Some years ago my department had to vote on a tenure decision for a colleague whom we all strongly supported. The committee also suggested early promotion, and the chair wanted to take a single vote on both proposals at once. I managed to convince him that this was a terrible idea, because he was assuming the vote would be unanimous. But what if someone favored tenure, but not the early promotion? Then the vote for tenure would be split, which would look bad. He took my advice, and we took two separate ballots. Both were unanimous, by the way. But this way there was no room for confusion or ambiguity about who supported what.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 20, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Unpopular measure." The spin never stops.

Posted by: June on March 20, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK
Days' worth of hysterical cries about a routine procedure were apparently entirely unnecessary.

Just the opposite -- it's off the table because of the hysterical cries.

I want this bill to pass -- I've been calling reps this afternoon -- but "deem and pass" is a mistake in anything but a last resort. While it is an entirely legitimate and fairly routine procedure, it comes across as an underhanded, procedural trick, undermining the Dems' long-standing calls for an up-or-down vote, and plays right into the long-standing teabagger meme, that HCR is being "rammed down the throats" of the American people "against their will."

We're far, far better off passing this with a direct, majority vote. Call your reps.

Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

Posted by: Andy on March 20, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Speak Pelosi is doing the right thing, but it's silly to praise someone for declining to do something that is totally wrong, will do the Democrats great harm, and will open the new law to litigation about it's constitutionality. Similarly, I won't praise her if she decided to not form a DNC death squad to threaten her membership if they don't vote the right way.

For the last several days the votes appear to be falling into place nicely, and Pelosi obviously is in a position to see that she can win, even with a straight up-and-down vote. She must be feeling pretty confident.

Posted by: kevino on March 20, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

When you looked closely at "Deem and Pass", it was ok, but the surface appearance was a bit fishy. For 95% of the nation that doesn't bother to look close, it was reminiscent of the Cornhusker kickback. It you're going to vote for the bill, you might as well boldly vote for it.

Does this gain any votes from the undecideds????

Posted by: Tim H on March 20, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

EFF the 'baggers, right through their empty skulls.

We'll do as WE see fit, when and where WE see fit.

Again -- EFF the 'baggers, and the Dick Armey they rode in on.

Posted by: Eff the 'baggers on March 20, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think this was the right thing to do. Deem and pass had become a distraction. It just wasn't worth the fallout. Recorded up or down votes on the reconciliation fixes and the senate bill will be a much cleaner and transparent process. Of course, the Democrats will get no credit for taking this option. I am waiting to hear the next outrage from the Republicans.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on March 20, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

You new in town, Steve?

Republicans will simply pretend the Dems went ahead with deem-and-pass anyway and continue to berate them for using secret dark-of-the-night tactics to "ram the bill through." That Republicans got exactly what they demanded in an up-or-down vote is an inconvenience that will be hustled into the memory hole.

How can I possibly make this prediction? Simple. How many Republican tirades against deem-and-pass bother to mention that the entire exercise was made necessary by the Republican filibuster in the Senate?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on March 20, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Oh dear, that means the Democrats won't be using the "slaughter rule" after all. What will the Republicans have to complain about next.

Posted by: wbn on March 20, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the fact that deem and pass drove the Right bonkers was precisely the reason to use it.

Posted by: craigie on March 20, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I will believe the Rethugs will concede they lost fair-and-square when the sun rises in the west tomorrow morning. Either they will ignore what actually happened, and just keep spinning lies, or they will conjure up some other conspiracy that makes the passage illegitimate in their warped minds. You have to keep feeding red meat to the hounds or they'll abandon ship.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 20, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

How many Republicans will vote for the reconciliation part of the bill? After all, if they don't, they are voting to maintain (one could say "for") the cornhusker kickback and all the other things they find so odious.

Posted by: Vondo on March 20, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Deem and Pass was scraped was because the house parliamentarian assured leadership that the voting order didn't matter...it means the Dems can vote for the fixes before they vote for the bill. This solved the political challenge of voting for 'cornhusker kickback' and then taking it out with the fix vote which is why Deem and Pass was brought forward as a solution to begin with.

With the parliamentarian affirming voting order, Deem and Pass isn't necessary.

Posted by: JWK on March 20, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The "deemed passed" technique allowed the Republicans to make a big fuss about something that wasn't central to the reform itself, and could be easily jettisoned by the Democratic leadership once they knew (keeping my fingers crossed here) that they had the votes. It gave the media something to obsess about, and allowed the Democratic leadership to continue to pressure their undecideds without having to deal with any new substantive issues.

By taking up this tangential argument, the Republicans were deflected from other arguments such as the CBO estimates of cost. They did a little pro forma denial, but seem to have driven right off a cliff of their own making by yelling about the slaughter rule.

Posted by: Bob G on March 20, 2010 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

By taking up this tangential argument, the Republicans were deflected from other arguments such as the CBO estimates of cost. They did a little pro forma denial, but seem to have driven right off a cliff of their own making by yelling about the slaughter rule.

If this is all really the result of Orahma playing 11-dimensional chess on 'em and not just lucky blundering, they're grand masters who make LBJ look like an amateur.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on March 20, 2010 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

"The reason Deem and Pass was scraped was because the house parliamentarian assured leadership that the voting order didn't matter."

So even though the House passes the Senate bill unchanged, and sends the amendments to the Senate for approval, that precludes the Senate from not approving the reconciliation changes and us being stuck with the PoS Senate Bill? Logically, that's ridiculous, but I guess its SOP for the byzantine inner workings of both houses of Congress.

That's like union leadership going to their members and telling them that they have to approve management's offer before approving their counteroffer.

The vote by each house should be for the bill, AS AMENDED. If they both go for it, then you send it to the President.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 21, 2010 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

I am constantly searching online for ideas that can aid me. Thx!

Posted by: Shellie Trethewey on March 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK
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