Breaking: Dems abandon deem-and-pass

Good news or bad news? House Democrats unexpectedly dumped their Slaughter strategy of using deem-and-pass to push ObamaCare through a floor vote:

Top Democrats confirmed Saturday that the House would hold separate votes on the Senate healthcare bill and the reconciliation bill making fixes to it.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the chief deputy whips, Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), all of whom said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) won’t use the tactic of deem and pass for healthcare reform.

The move effectively kills the “deem and pass” strategy Democrats had been eyeing to make changes to the Senate bill through a rule on the bill, which at the same time would have deemed the original Senate healthcare bill to have passed the House.

The House appears set now to move toward an up-or-down vote on the Senate healthcare bill, as well as a separate, up-or-down vote on the series of changes to that bill. There will still be a vote on the rule, as there always is for a piece of legislation, though it will not package the two bills together.

So what does this mean?  Hard to say.  It could be that the heat on Democrats for using DemonPass made it too difficult to hold onto votes; Pelosi may have calculated that she’d net more votes if she split the bills properly.  On the other hand, it could also mean that Pelosi has all the votes she needs and no longer needs the self-executing rule to get the bill out of the House.

If anyone wonders which it is, Major Garrett of Fox News helpfully tweeted that he believes that Pelosi now has the votes for tomorrow.  If that’s too pessimistic for you, remember that DemonPass was intended to protect Dems opposed to the Cadillac Tax and other issues in the Senate bill.  The politics of the bill have only become more fraught since they floated that strategy, which could mean that Democrats now think it won’t pass — and need a reason for its demise other than a failure of Pelosi to whip the count.  I lean more towards the former than the latter, but until the vote gets taken (or doesn’t), we won’t know for sure which applies.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023