Dems in disarray in Rules committee?

posted at 1:11 pm on March 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

It’s perhaps the most jarring bit of irony in the entire health-care debate.  The House Rules committee is meeting as I write this post, attempting to put together the package that will govern the reconciliation bill to a floor vote sometime tomorrow.  As Byron York reports, though, the Democrats on the committee seem to have hit a problem with … the rules:

Here is the problem: The Senate has passed its HCR bill. If the House passes the same bill, it goes on to the president; once he signs it, the bill becomes law. But House Democrats, when they vote for the Senate bill using the “Deem & Pass” dodge, also want to simultaneously pass a package of amendments to the law. Except HCR will not, at that point, be law. It will only become law when the president signs it. Congress can amend the law — it does so all the time — but can it amend something that isn’t law?

Which is where Democrats are tripping up. Passage of their HCR proposal should be very simple: Senate passes it, House passes it, president signs it. But House Democrats are terrified of voting for the unpopular bill, so they hope to pass it by “Deem & Pass,” in which they will vote, not for the bill, but for a rule that both deems the Senate bill to have passed and, in the same vote, passes the package of amendments. So House Democrats will have two fig leaves: 1) they didn’t vote directly for the Senate bill, and 2) they voted to simultaneously amend — to “fix” — the Senate bill.

The problem is the sequence. Can the House vote to amend something that isn’t the law, as the Senate bill will not be law before the president’s signature? The Rules Committee meeting turned into mass confusion when Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said, “We’re not going to ‘deem’ the bill passed. We’re going to pass the Senate bill…I would be against the idea of ‘deeming’ something — we either pass it or we don’t.”

To Republican ears, that sounded as if Waxman was speaking out in support of a direct vote on the Senate plan. “I hope we’re making news here,” said Republican Rep. Joe Barton. If so, Barton added, “Praise the Lord!” Other Democrats jumped in to say that no, there would not be a direct vote on the Senate bill.

The Waxman comment did make news, but as York notes, the other Democrats quickly squelched the idea of taking a separate vote.  However, the problem will be when this bill gets challenged in the courts, especially if the Senate reconciliation effort fails.  As Republican committee member Joe Barton pointed out, a failure of reconciliation in the Senate would mean that the bill would become law without ever getting an up-or-down vote in the House on the final version of the bill:

“I want everybody to understand that if, in fact, the decision is made by your leadership to pass this under what is called ‘self-executing’ or the ‘deem-and-pass,’ you’re not going to have a vote on a bill that passed the Senate Christmas Eve and came to the House.  And if the rule is passed, that bill will be ‘deemed passed’ even though there will be no vote and no debate on the substantive policy differences between the House and the Senate.

“I am told that on its own, the bill the Senate passed would not pass the House because there are not 216 in your conference to pass it. So we start off, if that’s the way you guys decide to do it, with deeming something passed that no one in the House really gets to debate or have an up-or-down vote on. And then we debate perfunctorily for an hour or maybe two hours, depending on how much time you’re going to give us, a reconciliation package where the only people that have really seen it in depth are those distinguished members of the Budget Committee.

“Since 1983, which is the year before I was elected, the Senate has only one time accepted a reconciliation package that came out of the House first. If the last 30 years are relevant, you’re probably not going to get the Senate to agree to the changes that have been made in the reconciliation. And if that happens, Madam Chairwoman, the president is going to sign a bill which the House never voted up or down and that makes revolutionary changes in the way our country’s health care system has heretofore functioned.”

Will any of this dissuade Democrats from using Demon Pass?  Most likely not, but it doesn’t make it any easier for this to pass muster in a court challenge.  As I wrote this week, the Marshall Field precedent makes that an uphill climb, but the more Democrats monkey with the process, the more they invite the courts to intervene afterward.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Let’s see, so far the Democrats have tried the Slaughter Solution, reconciliation, lab coats, sob stories, CBO, Cornhusker Kickback, Louisianna Purchase, Let’s do if for Kennedy, closed door negotiations, midnight votes, Deeming, full frontal shower attacks, backdoor deals, court appointments (have I missed anything?) and still they can’t get this thing passed.

ConservativeTony on March 20, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Has Slaughter brought up the sob story about the constituent who was so poor she had to wear her dead sister’s dentures yet?

Wethal on March 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM

What’s the use of repeating it? I’m sure she’ll just rip off another “your mama is so poor…” joke as there are so many to choose from.

RD on March 20, 2010 at 2:27 PM

RD on March 20, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Er, “your mama is so poor…”

RD on March 20, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Folks, we must keep the pressure on; do not let up for any reason! Here are the Representatives to keep calling, e-mailing, and faxing:

Undecided and voted no on House bill in November (4): Tanner (TN 8), Matheson (UT 2), Nye (VA 2), Baird (WA 3). Tanner and Baird are not running for reelection. Matheson’s brother was recently nominated for a federal judgeship; he appears to have fine credentials.

Undecided and voted yes on the House bill in November (8): Bean (IL 8), Foster (IL 14), Michaud (ME 2), Pomeroy (ND 1), Space (OH 18), Carney (PA 10), Kanjorski (PA 11), Ortiz (TX 27).

Stupak bloc (11): Berry (AR 1), Bishop (GA 2), Lipinski (IL 3), Costello (IL 12), Donnelly (IN 2), Stupak (MI 1), Driehaus (OH 1), Kaptur (OH 9), Dahlkemper (PA 3), Mollohan (WV 1), Rahall (WV 3).

Remember our compatriots on the flight over Pennsylvania on September 11th – they went down STANDING UP! We do not surrender!LET’S ROLL!

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

SheetAnchor on March 20, 2010 at 2:30 PM

I am currently flying my American flag upside down to show that the country is in distress.

mechkiller_k on March 20, 2010 at 2:30 PM

The golden rule of all human interactions is to judge a person, or a group, by their actions rather than their words


donabernathy on March 20, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Drudge says deem and pass is out!

TheAudacityofNOPE on March 20, 2010 at 2:33 PM

At first when I saw them pull out the Slaughter Solution I said to myself ‘Well then what was Scott Brown’s election for!?’

But then it hit me: if Scott hadn’t been elected, we would’ve never seen the demoncrat’s true colors.

We would’ve never see them resort to demon pass.

Now we see what monsters they really are. Their deeds in secret places are now being shouted from the roof tops.

And there’s still no guarantee it will work.

Elections still matter thankfully. Don’t sleep that day in November until you’ve voted! Don’t eat that day in November until you’ve voted. Make it your goal to vote. Make it your priority to vote. Make it your priority to get your friends to the polls and educate your fellow country men. Remind them constatntly (from now to that day) every day what the democrats try to do now. Keep these days fresh in their minds.

Get out and hit the pavement. Tell strangers why this is so damn important. Make 100 new friends you didn’t know before and do what you can to educate them about what just happened.

These elections are crucial. Critical. Get out there and Vote! Get us a few seats in the Senate… but the house races are critical: we need to take back the house and we need to take it back yesterday!

Chaz706 on March 20, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Reports that Demonpass is being dropped. Going for a straight vote. Is executive order the fig leaf for the Stupak group?

Wethal on March 20, 2010 at 2:34 PM

I fear the Republic is already on it’s last legs. Even if they fail this time, they will continue down this path with even more fury – and they only have to win once.

Rebar on March 20, 2010 at 1:43 PM

+1 – What you said!

RD on March 20, 2010 at 2:35 PM

ConservativeTony on March 20, 2010 at 2:25 PM

pretty ethical huh?

FontanaConservative on March 20, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Cardoza Threatened to Vote Against Demon Pass: He’s one of the two Democrats bribed with water in the San Joaqim Valley.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) appeared to switch positions on healthcare on Saturday, saying he’d vote against a rule that deems the Senate bill as passed.
Cardoza, a previously undecided lawmaker who’d voted to pass Democrats’ healthcare bill in November, said he would vote against the process his party plans to move forward on healthcare.

“I don’t believe it’s smart of us to pass a bill this momentous with a deemed rule,” Cardoza said in a Rules Committee markup. “I want to make the announcement in the committee right now that I don’t support that, and won’t support a rule that does it that way.”

So dropping the Demon Pass strategem, I guess, secured his vote.


Wow. The guy got paid off twice for his vote. First they turned on the water and then they dropped Demonpass.

Wethal on March 20, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Transparency = political insecticide

“We can’t have the people be aware of we’re doing….they’ll see how ignorant we really are behind closed doors”.

Why has this entire clusterfark devolved into the Constitutional issue? Because very few in Congress really have any understanding of what the Constitution actually says. They are, however, expert at getting elected.

It all becomes painfully clear when we get the rare glimpse into committee meetings where Constitutional requirements are discussed; when we do, its like a Monty Python skit.

BobMbx on March 20, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Carl Cameron just said that John Boehner told Nancy Pelosi that a voice vote and roll call will be used, which means every House member will be recorded stating their vote and will be used in campaign ads. The dirty, stinking cowards won’t be able to hide from this vote!

ladyingray on March 20, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Reports that Demonpass is being dropped. Going for a straight vote. Is executive order the fig leaf for the Stupak group?

Wethal on March 20, 2010 at 2:34 PM

The only scenario where that would be of use is if the vote failed in the House, isn’t it? And, if one executive order can be overridden by another, it seems this makes repeal more attainable down the road.

a capella on March 20, 2010 at 2:44 PM

I don’t think Obama wants to anger the pro-choice groups with an Executive Order like that. He’d have to rescind it himself before the 2012 election.

ladyingray on March 20, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Deem and pass is dead slaughter solution is dead

Reversal: Democrats Abandon “Slaughter Solution” Under Pressure from GOP

Anti-Harkonnen Freedom Fighter on March 20, 2010 at 2:48 PM

From Red State:

Patriots and Iowans Have a New Target: Bill Braley – Backing Off His Yes
Swamp_Yankee Saturday, March 20th at 1:13PM EDT (link)
Worried about medicare cuts. Same issue as DeFazio, I think, reimbursements.

If your in Iowa, its your moral duty to call Braley’s offices all day, even show up and rally around his offices.

SheetAnchor on March 20, 2010 at 2:48 PM

FontanaConservative on March 20, 2010 at 2:37 PM

The only thing they haven’t tried is the normal legislative process. I’d bet anything if they got rid of 20-30% of what they want in the bill, they would get the Republican support (err, cover) they need to pass a bill–any bill. They could always add the things they need in subsequent years. True, if it passed this way, additional Democrats, especially those in traditional Republican districts would have lost, but the loss could have been contained

Instead, its ALL or NOTHING for them at a great political cost. They will be slaughtered in Novemeber.

Oh well, that’s the Democrat leadership for ya.

ConservativeTony on March 20, 2010 at 2:49 PM

I fear the Republic is already on it’s last legs. Even if they fail this time, they will continue down this path with even more fury – and they only have to win once.

Rebar on March 20, 2010 at 1:43 PM


Hear hear. We were on the precipice about to jump. We haven’t jumped yet but we’re still on the precipice.

Unless we seriously walk back (serious entitlement reform, and getting better men and women in the house and senate)… we will still be there. We don’t have to stay in this precarious situation… but walking back will be just as much–if not more of– a challenge than not jumping will.

It’s a challenge we must take if we want to save the republic though.

Chaz706 on March 20, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Has Slaughter brought up the sob story about the constituent who was so poor she had to wear her dead sister’s dentures yet? Wethal on March 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM

In them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.
A cup o’ cold tea.
Without milk or sugar.
Or tea.
In a cracked cup, an’ all.
Oh, we never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.
The best we could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.
But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.
Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.
Aye, ‘e was right.
Aye, ‘e was.
I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing, and we were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t’ corridor!
Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
We were evicted from our ‘ole in the ground; we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.
You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.
Cardboard box?
You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.
Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of ‘ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean wit’ tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit’ bread knife.
Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.
They won’t!

Akzed on March 20, 2010 at 2:52 PM

The problem is the sequence. Can the House vote to amend something that isn’t the law…?

It depends on how fast Obama can write his name. If he can stamp it at the exact nano-second that the last vote is cast, then there is no problem.

percysunshine on March 20, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Deem and Pass dropped? Does that mean they have the votes?

Or does it mean they need some other way of getting the votes (like an executive order bribe?).

This was not a good weekend to give up psilocybin mushrooms.

Mr. Joe on March 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM

So, now we will have an actual vote on the actual bill as it was passed by the Senate, which is as it should be.

I guess that they finally listened to a few Constitutional Lawyers and Congressional Parliamentarians who explained to them that it wouldn’t work the other way.

Now, hopefully, we can defeat this thing on an up or down vote. :) :) :)

Theophile on March 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM

ConservativeTony on March 20, 2010 at 2:25 PM

1++++ LOL! Full frontal shower attacks = transparency.

starboardhelm on March 20, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Wow, they don’t even know what they are trying to do.

They were literally making this up as they went along, and it seems to have finally dawned on them there was no way this would survive a court challenge, if the Drudge headline that they are dropping DemonPass is true, and they have dropped it.

manofaiki on March 20, 2010 at 3:11 PM

So, with deem and pass seemingly gone, the $64.00 question is, will the House still vote on a Senate bill that it hates?!

J.J. Sefton on March 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM


So, now they will amend the Senate bill. That means that it will go back to the Senate even if it passes. That means that this is not over. As long as at least one decent-sized amendment makes it on to the bill, the Senate will have to vote on it again.

Thus, if we don’t defeat it here, we can still defeat it there (with 41 votes via the modern filibuster).

:) :) :)

Theophile on March 20, 2010 at 3:22 PM

ladyingray on March 20, 2010 at 2:46 PM

I don’t think Obama will be able to run in 2012. Hopefully he’ll be in jail by then. If this thing passes there may be people angry enough to actually stand for the rule of law.

justincase on March 20, 2010 at 3:23 PM is carrying footage of Obama speaking in a moment
or two

Ugly on March 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Not only do they not know what they a trying to do .If you watch the news stations even Fox they have no idea of what is going on.Just like a reporter on fox said last hour the Neb. deal had been taken out.I starting screaming at the TV no Dammit it has not.The Sen. bill is still the same as it was on dec24 when the sen. pass it and it will go to the pres with all the things still in it when if the house deems it passed.

thmcbb on March 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM

1.3 trillion in deficit reduction my arse, Nancy

Ugly on March 20, 2010 at 3:41 PM

This naked power grab aside – the Democrats are destroying the faith of generations of Americans who believed that something like this could never happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We’ve become Russia, or Venzuela. When the ruling party has a problem – it simply changes the rules.

Tell me now how fools who engage in this kind of legislative “trickeration” at the expense of our Constitution are better than those who call for secession?

Look me in the eye and tell me now that a “birther” is a worse creature than a Democrat who shreds the Constitution for his own political benefit.

HondaV65 on March 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM

They won’t!

Akzed on March 20, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Akzed: That skit is funny as h*ll!)

Monty Python – Four Yorkshiremen

canopfor on March 20, 2010 at 4:32 PM

This is not in any way, shape or form, competent leadership in government!

This is an absolute free for all, and a disgraceful one at that!

pilamaye on March 20, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Ok, so we “deem and pass” the bill to send to the Senate; and the Senate bill isn’t law until the whole thing passed.

And the Senate uses reconciliation, which can only be used when the first bill is passed; which won;’t happen until after reconciliation, which they can’t use. But the bill can’t pass until the reconciliation passes due to the “deem and pass” rule.

They can’t move because they’re standing on their hands? I almost never get to use that saying.. which is disappointing because it’s such a fun saying.

The House can’t pass the Senate bill, it isn’t popular enough; so they need the Amendment bill tied to it. The Senate can’t pass the amendment bill with 60, they only have 59 at most; so they need reconciliation. Reconciliation can’t be used on a bill that isn’t passed yet, so the Senate Bill must be passed first… goto the beginning of this paragraph and start over. Stop only when you give up.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza,
There’s a hole.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
Sesame street video at link if you don’t recall the song.

gekkobear on March 20, 2010 at 5:11 PM

One thing about living in the video age as compared to just newspaper and radio for media is we never knew how stupid some of our politicians were. Slaughter has her ears plugged up and Becerra is just parroting the party line. Ryan is very impressive with facts figures and ideas.

Herb on March 20, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Oh my! Louise almost makes Babs Boxer look brilliant. How do these people get elected? Are their constituents really so dumb as to elect these Foamer’s & Drooler’s?

I’m thinking we need to have a two tiered citizenship structure in this country, and take the vote away from the women for Gods sake. Exceptions made for women that have served in the Armed Services…of course.

PakviRoti on March 20, 2010 at 8:11 PM

We need to build some scaffolds and have a GALLOWS DAY.

Dick Turpin on March 20, 2010 at 8:28 PM

From Red State:

If you’re from Utah (hell even if you’re not) get on the phone NOW to Jim Matheson’s office.

According to FireDog Lake there are 204 yes…205 no…0 lean yes…10 lean no…and 12 undecided. If we hold the leans, Nan’s got to run the table on the undecideds. Matheson is an undecided. He’s from a +15 R district.

SheetAnchor on March 20, 2010 at 8:36 PM

We need to build some scaffolds and have a GALLOWS DAY.

Dick Turpin on March 20, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Careful, I think a couple of people were banned yesterday for using language suggestive of violence. Sapwolf was banned on Thursday also.

PakviRoti on March 20, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Courtesy of NRO:
From A New Direction For America

Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference report text prior to floor consideration. Rules governing floor debate must be reported before 10 p.m. for a bill to be considered the following day.

It’s 11:30pm and the rules committee is just finishing up. Another promise with an expiration date

SaintGeorgeGentile on March 20, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Last night, the Rules Committee was still in disarray. Word is, they had to adjourn around 7 PM because there was an unruly mob outside, shouting loud enough to make it difficult to hear in the room.

Not bad for a couple hundred dozen tea partiers baggers ;-)

fluffy on March 21, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Louise McIntosh Slaughter (born August 14, 1929)

Louise Slaughter is going to be 81 years old in 2010. She was a teenager when FDR was President. We really need to get the Old Bulls out of the Congress. What they are attempting didn’t work for FDR and it’s not going to work now…this is all they got?

Dr Evil on March 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM