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Democrats drop “deem and pass” – amendment package may be key vote

The Democrats have decided not to use the “Slaughter solution” also known as “deem and pass” during tomorrow’s vote on health care reform.  Apparently there will be an up or down vote on the two bills, i.e. the Senate version of HCR and to pass a package of amendments to the law.

Problem – or not – does it matter what sequence they’re done in?

The Republicans are claiming you can’t amend a law that isn’t a law yet.  In other words, they’re claiming that unless the Senate HCR bill is signed into law, it can’t be amended.  And Democratic House members just don’t trust the Senate enough to pass that first.  Thus the proposed “deem and pass” attempt.

However, per Byron York, sequencing really isn’t as big a problem as you may think it should be (i.e. if you’re a logical person who thinks the GOP argument makes logical sense, you’re obviously not used to living the the same world as Congress):

I just talked with a Republican rules expert, and it appears that there is nothing in the rules of the House that will prevent Democrats from scheduling the vote for the amendments package before the vote on the Senate bill itself — that is, voting to amend the law before it becomes law.

“As a technical matter of the rules of the House, you can pass individual bills in any order you want,” says the expert. The expert said Republican Rep. Joe Barton, who argued that the House could not amend the Senate bill before it became law, was making an “integrity-based” argument based on what should be done. “But as a strict construction matter of the House rules, there’s no bar” to doing what the Democrats intend to do, the expert said.

“To quote Mr. Hastings,” he concluded, “they can make it up as they go along.”

And they are. Given this I expect the first vote to be on the package of amendments tomorrow. If that doesn’t make it (and it may not – stay with me here), the next vote on the HCR bill will be moot. If it makes it, then I would expect the HCR bill to make it although it will probably be very close.

Why do I think the package of amendments might not make it? Well if they vote that down, then they don’t have to be on record with the HCR vote – they (Democrats) can vote “no” on HCR in good conscience. Excuse? Without the package of amendments it was unacceptable.

That’s if it goes in the sequence I think it might tomorrow.

~McQ

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18 Responses to Democrats drop “deem and pass” – amendment package may be key vote

  • The Democrats really have the pooch screaming now.

  • In light of the recent redesign here: Nancy Pelosi, no thanks, we Pass; now please Stow it…..

  • Maybe my little brain is too small to wrap around this, so somebody please help me out.  If the amendments pass first, then the Senate bill, doesn’t that mean the House has passed a version of the bill different from the Senate’s, thus putting the ball back in the Senate’s court?  And if the Senate bill passes first and then the amendments, is there anything to stop President Obama from running right in between the votes and signing the damn thing to get his legacy assured?

    • As soon as the Senate bill passes, it will be signed by Obama. But what the House is most worried about is the amendment package because they don’t trust the Senate at all. So they want to be assured that package will pass.

      I have no idea what order they’ll try to pass these two tomorrow, but apparently it doesn’t matter. And the amendment package has to go to the Senate for reconciliation even if the HCR bill is signed into law (if HCR is passed Obama is going to sign it within minutes. He might have a ceremonial signing later, but he’ll do the real signing in the cloak room). And per Carl Cameron at Fox News, the last 22 times reconciliation was used, the bill it was used upon was “tweaked” by the Senate and sent back to the House 21 times. The House, of course, wants and “untweaked” amendment package passed by the Senate via reconciliation. It’s that distrust between the two sides of the Congress that is causing so much internal trouble.

      And, just to add little more fun to all of this, it is believed, at least at this point, that the Dems are still 4 votes short of a majority on HCR.

      • Surely Pelosi wouldn’t have called a vote unless she knew she could win, right?  If she’s really four votes short, what are the odds that five of the “no” votes are involved in car “accidents” on the way to vote?

      • The day you can’t buy 4 congressmen is the day I score with 4 sports illustrated swimsuit models.

        • How much are they going for these days?  Maybe we could raise some money and buy us some “no” votes.  If there’s any left over we can buy you a supermodel or four.

          • They have funding from the American taxpayer to offer anything to bride these congressmen within the scope of their day jobs.  You’ll have to ask the gentleman from Nebraska and a few others what their going rate was.
             
            As for getting a friend of a friend to hirer one of these men for a speaking tour or to put their name on an empty office for their post congressional career, I suspect that would take much less.

      • How can Obama sign the Senate bill into law when that law has been changed via the ammendments bill? Even if the reconciliation process fails then we’re stuck with the Senate law? Wasn’t that the exact situation the House Dems were trying to avoid?

  • The libs have recently been speculating / complaining that the country is “ungovernable”.

    I suggest that, if this is so, then the sort of chicanery we’ve been seeing with the writing of huge bills that members of Congress admit that they don’t read before voting on them, the blatant purchase of votes, the artificial urgency, the accounting tricks, the propaganda, and now the creative scheduling of votes are responsible.  These things do nothing to inspire a sense of confidence in the government or a belief in its legitimacy as representative of the will of the people.  To the contrary, they seem more the actions of a government that believes that it can and should do whatever is necessary to get what it wants.

  • I am not a lawyer but I always thought that process was a very important legal thingee; ‘due process’ and all that. Now it seems that a large number of lawyers all think that process really doesn’t matter, that you can put the cart before the horse. Evidently the rules of the house trump the rules of the law.
    A pox on both the houses. And the limos they rode in on.

  • This damn thing has got me nervous as hell guys.  OH! BTW, I like the new format, looks really good.

  • Looks like Stupak has created a way to solve his crisis via an executive order…they may well have the 4 votes in hand.
    Looks like we’re gonna be stuck with this crock.  Next will be the reconciliation debacle.  This will be going on far longer than any Dem would have liked.