This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to ask Democratic Representatives to demonstrate their unconditional endorsement of the health care reform bill before Congress by—not voting for it.
In a parliamentary trick known as the “Slaughter Solution”—brought to you by Rule Committee Chair Louise Slaughter, who was last seen on TV at the Blair House summit carping about a constituent’s used dentures—the House would not ever have to actually vote for the unpopular Senate bill in order to pass it. (Weren’t Democrats the ones clamoring for an “up-or-down vote” for the last three months?)
Instead, according to Slaughter, House Democrats could simply vote for a reconciliation package written to remove any unsavory provisions from the Senate bill and bring it more in line with liberal House members’ liking. The package would contain what’s known as a “hereby” rule declaring that the Senate bill would be “deemed” to have been “already passed” by the House. The reconciliation package would be sent to the Senate for approval, and then it and the original Senate bill would go to the President for signature.
The only nagging detail in this plan is that Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution states that every bill “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” before it may go to the President. In other words, a bill must be passed—not “deemed to have been passed”—by both chambers first.
In case this wasn’t clear, the Founding Fathers reiterated, “[T]he votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively.” (Note: “Yea” in this case does not mean, “Yea, I don’t have to vote for the bill!”) read more »