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.