“Deem and Pass” Is NOT “Without a Vote“

Several traditional media outlets are regurgitating the conservative spin that if the House uses the parliamentary procedure known as a “self-executing rule” or “deem and pass,” it will be passing the Senate health care vote “without a vote.”

Yet that is a false assertion.

MSNBC’s First Read succinctly explains the process, in case any other professional journalists care to do their jobs.

…the health-care bill would be voted on INDIRECTLY, tucked into what’s known as “the rule.” The rule essentially outlines the rules for an upcoming vote — in this case, it would be the vote on the package of reconciliation fixes. By passing “the rule,” the House also would “deem” the Senate bill passed (with a “hereby” statement. “We hereby deem…”). The House would then vote on the package of reconciliation fixes. But the Senate health-care bill would be considered passed even if they never vote on the reconciliation fixes [and] the bill must be signed by the president before the Senate takes up the reconciliation.

So there is a vote by the full House on whether it chooses to pass the Senate health care bill.

If any members of the House do not want to deem the Senate bill passed, they can vote “No” on the rule which would deem it passed.

Any members of the House who vote “Yes,” would do so by recorded vote, so their constituents will be able to judge their actions.

Kinda sounds like democracy.

All that is accomplished here is the consolidation of a step. Instead of a separate vote on the Senate bill, it is packaged with the procedural motion that precedes changes to the bill in the budget reconciliation process.

Why bother with the non-traditional legislating? Some House members would prefer to consolidate those two steps, so conservatives will have a harder time attacking them over controversial elements in the Senate bill — like the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” — which the House is planning to strip out in the reconciliation process, yet with which Republican leaders have already tried to tar House members.

Knowing the facts makes GOP Rep. David Dreier’s hysteria sound all the sillier, as reported by CNN: “I think that [James] Madison would be spinning in his grave at the fact that there is absolutely no accountability to what is taking place here.”

Or, Madison would call Dreier a liar, as there is complete accountability with a recorded vote.

If conservative obstructionists actually think this is unconstitutional, they should be giddy, because they then could have the courts nullify the entire law as illegitimate. But they know that it is legit, because Republicans have repeatedly used this procedure when they were in power.

So instead, conservatives are just ginning up fake outrage, knowing full well, as Eschaton put it, “…the media will trumpet it and congressional offices will see it on their always-tuned-to-cable-news-teevees and get scared.”

But as Eschaton also says, in the end no one who votes cares about the process. They care whether the reforms will help them or hurt them.

Congrespeople should not let the fact that conservatives can easily con the Washington media let them lose sight of what really matters to voters.