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.