Free Markets, Free People

procedures

Health care reform: So where are we on the vote?

David Dayden at FDL has it as 190 “yes”, 205 “no” (with leaners 202- 207).  That down one from the last whip count on the “yes” side and puts Obama and Pelosi about 14 short with leaners.  Democrat Bart Stupak thinks they’re 16 votes short.

Republican Representative David Dreier puts it at slighly less needed on the yes side:

In a press conference on Capitol Hill today, Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, said the word around the House is that Democrats are still about 10 votes away from securing the 216 they will need to pass changes to the health-care bill. Dreier added that that number might be moving in the wrong direction for Democrats.

It’s possible (see FDL count) it’s moving in the wrong direction, but, as always the disclaimer that these numbers are quite fluid and could literally change in a second or in accordance with how hard a particular arm is being twisted or how much of the moon they’re being promised for their vote.  I’d say they’re in the 10-12 vote short neighborhood given the reports above.

Be that as it may, Pelosi and company are exploring all the contingencies:

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. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

“It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know,” the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. “But I like it,” she said, “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

This is Pelosi’s fix for the kamakazi role she’s asked many of the members of Congress to take on the HCR package. But, according to the article cited in the WaPo this would apply to the package of fixes they want the Senate to undertake when and if she’s able to push the Senate bill through the House. The article then hints it may be used on the full Senate bill as well. The use of the rule only makes sense (if the intent is to hide who voted for it) if it is used on the full Senate version now pending in the House. It is that bill which promises problems for Democrats in November if passed with their names attached.

Democrats have convinced themselves that the American people aren’t intrested in “process”. That is, they don’t care how they get it done, they just want to see it done. We’ve heard Obama echo this point as well as both Reid and Pelosi. But we’ve also heard them whine about an “up or down” vote, as in “American’s deserve an up or down vote”. Apparently not so much any more.

As for hiding the vote, it seems to be contrary to the Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 7):

But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.

The argument, of course, is the House has the power to write it’s own procedural rules, but it doesn’t have the power to set aside the procedural rules the Constitution imposes. This would seem to be a blatant attempt to do just that.

But more than anything, it signals that the House leadership may be reaching the conclusion that trying to get 216 votes is a bridge too far. Pelosi wants this done this week. If you see it show up on the floor and this procedure introduced, you’ll know they don’t have the votes. You’ll also know that “America” is not going to get the “up or down vote” that Obama and Pelosi called for either.

~McQ

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