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Saturday, March 20, 2010

'Deem and Pass" Deemed Gone?

If reports are accurate, the "deem and pass" strategy the Democratic House leaders were going to try to protect their liberal members from having to cast a vote on the liberally unpopular Senate version of Obamacare, is deemed gone.... they aren't going to do it.

The Hill and Washington Post are both reporting.

Dems ditch 'deem and pass'

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.

Seems some Democrats wouldn't agree to Pelosi's scheme.

Could have been all that chaos at the House Rules Committee meeting.

House leaders plan separate health vote, rejecting 'deem and pass'

Van Hollen, who has been working on the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said House leaders concluded that that order -- approving the amendments before approving the Senate bill -- makes clear that the House intends to modify the Senate bill and not approve the Senate bill itself.

Glaring problem there is once the Senate version is passed, it is up to the Senate on whether the "modifications" the House votes for get approved.

Anyone see where this is going?

Liberal Democrats, if they vote for this with no way of assuring themselves or their constituents that the Senate will, indeed, pass the fixes, are caving right in and accepting the Senate bill, which would become law.

Not only that, but now the previous numbers on House votes are all up in the air because now there is no protection for vulnerable Democrats who wished to avoid the appearance of having voted on the Senate version.

Via NRO:

UPDATE II: Here is the statement from Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.) ranking Republican on the Rules Committee:

“In the words of Ronald Reagan, ‘they may not have seen the light, but they certainly felt the heat,’” Dreier said. “The fact is, the Democratic Majority had no choice but heed the public outcry and abandon their effort to circumvent the democratic process. By even proposing the Slaughter Solution, they made clear they thought they knew best. But the American people made themselves heard and they won what is hopefully the first key victory in the healthcare fight. The fact remains that even without the Slaughter Solution, the American people will still reject the Democratic Majority’s march toward a government takeover of our healthcare system. No matter how they craft the rule, the only guaranteed outcome is that the bill everyone says they despise so much, the Senate-passed healthcare bill, is the one that will become law. The package of fixes may not fix anything and are almost sure to be changed in the Senate. Now, the Democratic Majority should abandon this entire process and start over, working with Republicans in a bipartisan way to achieve real healthcare reform.”