Click your heels together three times, Nancy, and you will be in Liberal Nirvana, where you can pass bills without voting on them.
In perhaps the biggest slap in the face to democracy ever, Nancy Pelosi says the House may try to pass the Health Care bill without voting for it.
They will just “deem” it to be passed. No one need take political heat because of their vote, because they can say they didn’t vote to pass the bill.
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. 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.”
Like Nancy says, it’s all insider stuff, and you don’t want to know about that. You don’t care if the constitution is followed or not.
Or so she hopes.
That’s democracy in the Age of Obama. For my money, it’s a bit like the fake democracy practiced by Communist countries. Their legislatures were always “passing” legislation. It’s just that none of it was really passed. They could deem things to be passed, if they wanted.
Well, there’s our first step toward unconstitutional action by the Obama administration. Next, there will be a little move towards the Senate not having to vote on its bills, and then there will be a little move towards the President not having to be re-elected to stay in office after 2012. That sort of thing.
Democrats would thus send the Senate bill to President Obama for his signature even as they claimed to oppose the same Senate bill. They would be declaring themselves to be for and against the Senate bill in the same vote. Even John Kerry never went that far with his Iraq war machinations. As we went to press, the precise mechanics that Democrats will use remained unclear, though yesterday Mrs. Pelosi endorsed this “deem and pass” strategy in a meeting with left-wing bloggers.
This two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.” This is why the House and Senate typically have a conference committee to work out differences in what each body passes. While sometimes one house cedes entirely to another, the expectation is that its Members must re-vote on the exact language of the other body’s bill.
As Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pointed out in these pages yesterday, “The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form.” If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison’s core checks and balances.
Yes, self-executing rules have been used in the past, but as the Congressional Research Service put it in a 2006 paper, “Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills.” They’ve also been used for amendments such as to a 1998 bill that “would have permitted the CIA to offer employees an early-out retirement program”—but never before to elide a vote on the entire fundamental legislation.