Hysteria du Jour

Today’s hysteria is that Nancy Pelosi is planning to get health care out of the way through a process called “deem and pass,” which Republicans are now screaming is unconstitutional even though it wasn’t when they used to use it. For further explanation, see Steve Benen, “The IOKIYAR Rule, Procedural Edition,” and Ezra Klein, “The Arms Race of Rules.”

In brief, “deem and pass,” also called the “self-executing rule,” would allow the House to “deem” the Senate bill passed and then the House would vote only on the “fixes” to it. As Steve Benen explains, this used to be a rare procedures until 15 years ago, when the Newt Gingrich-led Republican majority in the House discovered it and began using it to pass all sorts of bills.

In 2005 the group Public Citizen challenged the constitutionality of deem and pass in federal court. At the time Nancy Pelosi, Louise Slaughter, and Henry Waxman filed amicus briefs supporting this move. And now that the majority shoe is on the other foot, Pelosi is resorting to the dreaded rule and Republicans dredged up Public Citizen’s old arguments against it.

According to some of them, the rule was “devised” by Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter — they’re calling it the “Slaughter House Rule” — because she is chair of the Rules Committee. But she didn’t “devise” it. It’s been around since before she was in Congress.

As Steve B. says, “It’s a familiar pattern — Republicans open doors, and then whine incessantly when Democrats walk through them.”

Weirdly, many of the wingnuts are screaming about the hypocrisy of Pelosi and Slaughter, but I’m not seeing much mention of Waxman. Gynophobia, much?

Anyway, a U.S. District Court ruled against Public Citizen and decided “deem and pass” is constitutional. And what I think is that once they’ve got health care done, both the House and the Senate should engage in a major rule overhaul.

I agree with Steve M. that the Right will not let go of this and will use it to tar Democrats as arrogant, anti-democratic weasels, and health care reform will be called illegitimate if it’s signed into law. There is a class of people who simply will not let go of a perceived grievance, and wingnuts are it.

I have met people who still insist that West Virginia is not a real state because it was carved out of the confederate Virginia during the Civil War and admitted to the Union while most Virginia menfolk were traipsing around with Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. And when I say they “insist,” I mean they are passionate about it.

But guess what? West Virginia is still a state. And the enormous majority of Americans consider anyone who thinks otherwise to be demented.

And while I’d rather they pass health care reform some other way, if that’s the only way they can do it, they should go ahead. Not to do so is letting the bullies win. I think most Americans will like the HCR bill once they come to understand what is actually in it.

12 thoughts on “Hysteria du Jour

  1. I liked your West Virginia comparison , but going this route is a major Bad Idea. Yes, the Party of No are major hypocrites to complain, but for the D’s to do this will “prove” everything Boehnner, Cantor, et al have been saying, and will cost the D’s the House, I fear. I think the votes are in the House if the right kind of deal-making and persuasion is done.

  2. Wing-Nuts are over-reacting to a procedure they have used in the past? Big surprise, they the party of dimwitted hypocrites. Still if Pelosi and Co. use this procedure they are fucking dumber than I thought, really bad move. This will only give the wing-nuts more fuel for their dimwitted teabagging parties. If you don’t have the votes to pass the senate bill then walk away (or better yet why revise the whole fucking debate in the first place, learn how to count votes Nancy). Just because the wing-nuts have used this procedure is not an excuse, I do not want my speaker to act like a republican.

  3. Whatever the rules are, those are the rules in play. If “deem and pass” is a rule of the game, and has passed Constitutional muster, then the Democrats are obligated to use it. But I certainly agree that the rules should soon be improved to make them fully right, fair and democratic – no matter what finagling the Constitution might allow.

  4. I think getting the bill passed is top priority. Since it has been done and challenged in a court of law and deemed appropriate. I don’t care. Pass. The. Darn. Bill.

  5. Pingback: So what’s “deem and pass”? « Under The LobsterScope

  6. I say go for “Deem and Pass.”
    The Republican memory is “Dim and Past,” because they “Deemed and Passed.” Now they have to “Demonize” what might “Pass.”
    I never liked, or agreed, with that “Jam it down our throats” meme. Now, I say, “JAM IT DOWN THEIR THROATS!!!”
    Come on, you Republican anti-healthcare homophobes, YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!!!*

    This is a political metaphor, not to be taken literally for any sort of approval for date-rape, or forced sexual encounters.

  7. “Fighting with one hand behind ones back” was developed under the duelling code to insure that in a sword fight a hidden dagger couldn’t be brought into play. If you’re opponent was not known to be honorable, bring out the hand, and make sure your dagger is poisoned.

  8. Bonnie is right – “Pass the darn bill.” or for the rednecks here – GIT ‘ER DONE!’

    Serioulsy, I am concerned that many democrats who want the bill passed – are afraid to attach their name to it in a vote. They want to be able to say the bill passed when it’s convenient to take credit and that they never voted for the Senate Bill – which will be misrepresented when presented without the fixes that will happen in reconciliation.

    Big mistake. I hae said before and I will again – the Independent voter will decide almost every election in November. They ar not voting issues – they are voting character. Deem and Pass is gutless – the damage in Novemeber from that procedure is going to be FAR worse than standing up for the amended bill. The conventional wisdom is to try to have it both ways and the democrats will learn (perhaps) after they are royally screwed in November.

  9. James and uncledad: Recent history proves that the Repugs will howl and wail and swear it’s the end of the world no matter how the Dems pass the bill. It’s time to stop worrying about the specific fiction they attach to their hatred and just, as Doug so nicely put it, get ‘er done.

  10. The preferable option would be to pass both bills separately. But it’s clear that — with some Republicans advocating civil disobedience — this is a do or die moment. If the rule has been deemed legal and has been used by the other side — and if it is the only way to pass the bill — then deem and pass, and let the chips fall where they may.

  11. “It’s time to stop worrying about the specific fiction they attach to their hatred”

    That is not what really concerns me, I think Obama and the Dem leadership are fooling themselves if they think process doesn’t matter, I believe it does. In fact it’s the only thing that matters, the wing-nuts can’t really attack the bill based on its merits because all the lies they have told will be exposed, the best way for them to attack is on the process and the appearance of underhanded tom-foolery. The HCR bill had relative support prior to the special deals that were bargained for in the senate. In my opinion that is the issue that has turned some in the center against HCR. This just looks like more slight of hand to pass the bill. I didn’t like it when the wing-nuts ran the congress by parliamentary “procedures” and I am not going to hypocritically look the other way just because I believe in the legislation.

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