Deem and pass shows “lack of confidence,” “demeaning of democracy”
posted at 10:12 am on March 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Democrats have pulled out their tu quoques in response to Republican criticism of the “deem and pass” strategy proposed by Louise Slaughter. Still, this particular criticism cuts pretty close to the heart of the matter. See if you can guess which Republican blasted the Slaughter Rule for its political cowardice, emphases mine:
Not content with the denying the Minority to offer amendments and substitutes, the Majority has even refused to permit [the Minority} the chance to vote on the Majority’s own bills. That is precisely what happened on June 12. This being the 23rd, that was 13 days ago. When the [Majority] leadership reported a self-executing rule providing for the adoption of the $82 billion plan over 10 years and an almost trillion-dollar plan over 20 years, accelerating the increased child tax credit for low-income people families, we didn’t even get an opportunity to vote on the bill itself except by reference in a self-executing rule. What kind of lack of confidence does that display? What kind of process in pursuit of effectiveness does that mean that we are adopting? What kind of demeaning of democracy is the objective of efficiency resulting in? I would remiss to fail to note that barely 1 hour later, the House passed on a bipartisan vote — you talk about bipartisan votes — a nonbinding motion to instruct the conferees to accept the substantially more responsible Senate version of that bill, doing exactly the opposite of what a half an hour the House had voted on. Why? Because it had no full debate, and it was very ambivalent, and we knew the House was ambivalent, and you knew the House was ambivalent, and you were afraid, fearful that 12 or 15 [Majority members], if allowed to vote on the substance as opposed to voting procedurally on a rule where party loyalty is so important, you were afraid to put the substance to the test of democracy, fearful that you would lose 12 to 15, and we would prevail in our position.
Did Mitch McConnell say this? John Boehner? No, sorry, it was a trick question. Steny Hoyer offered this scathing criticism — in 2003. That’s the same Steny Hoyer who just this week said about “deem and pass”:
“It is consistent with the rules,” Mr. Hoyer said. “It is consistent with former practice.”
All right, maybe that one was too hard. I’ll offer this as a substitute. Who said this about passing the Senate bill?
Now don’t get me wrong; the current House and Senate bills are a significant improvement over the status quo. Given the hard path to reform and the political realities of next year, there is a sizable group within Congress that wants to simply cut any deal that works and call it a success. Many previous efforts have failed, and the path to reform is littered with unsuccessful efforts championed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton.
Supporters of the weak Senate bill say “just pass it — any bill is better than no bill.”
I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.
It’s time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.
That advice to slaughter the Senate bill that Louise Slaughter now proposes to pass without a vote came from … Louise Slaughter. Unlike Hoyer, Slaughter didn’t issue this statement seven years ago, but less than three months ago. When it comes to hypocrisy, Hoyer’s got nothing on Slaughter.
Update: Verum Serum catches Hoyer ranting about this on the floor of the House in 2003.