House Democrats appear set to pass Senate bill without voting on it
Republicans now expect Democrats to pass health care through the House with a trick only Capitol Hill could dream up: approving the Senate bill without voting on it.
Democrats will vote on a separate bill that includes language stating that the original Senate bill is “deemed passed.”
So by voting for the first bill — a reconciliation measure to fix certain things in the Senate bill — that will automatically pass the second bill — the original Senate bill — without a separate roll call taking place.
It’s called the “Slaughter Solution” (prepare for a weekend of endless TV gabbing about it).
And after debating House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the chamber floor, Minority Whip Eric Cantor emerged convinced that Democrats are going to use the tactic, and that they won’t allow Republicans, and the public, to see the text of any legislation for 72 hours before a vote.
“I can infer that we’re going to see a rule that will deem the Senate bill as having passed, and at the same time not even have 72 hours to even look at what they are passing,” Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said in an interview outside his office at the Capitol.
“The outrage to me on the part of the public is going to be focused on the fact that there is not even an up or down vote, a clean up or down vote,” Cantor said.
Here’s the reason Democrats are using such a complicated procedure: many in the House completely do not trust the Senate to pass fixes to the bill passed by the Senate in December. But according to the rules of reconciliation, the House must go first in passing the Senate bill and passing a reconciliation fix.
So House Democrats have been searching for a way to alleviate members’ concerns that if they vote for the Senate bill and the Senate does nothing to fix it, they will be hung out to dry as having supported a piece of legislation that many across the country dislike, either for spending reasons, or because of special provisions like the extra money for Nebraska’s Medicaid population (the “Cornhusker kickback”).
Technically, using the “Slaughter solution,” they’ll never have voted for the bill they find odious, even if their vote on the reconciliation legislation will have been the vote that passed the Senate bill into law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, alluded to all this at her weekly press conference Friday.
“There are certain assurances that they want and that we will get for them before I ask them to take a vote,” Pelosi said.
The “Slaughter solution” is named for House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter, the New York Democrat who came up with the idea. She told the Daily Caller on Thursday that the chances of her procedure being used were “pretty good.”
Despite doubt among some on Capitol Hill on whether the “Slaughter solution” was feasible, Cantor expressed no doubt that the tactic could be used.
“It’s a self-executing rule. It is akin to passage but hidden in a rule as a side-note, passing the 2,700-page, $1 trillion bill, oh by the way,” he said.
Hoyer rejected the idea that Republicans have not had enough time to review the legislation.
“You have had months to review the substance of that bill. You don’t like it. We understand. You’re going to oppose it. We understand that as well. The fact of the matter is you cannot say you have had no notice of each and every provision for over two months,” said Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.
Cantor said he wanted 72 hours to review the final text of the reconciliation bill.
“The reconciliation bill is new text. He claims it’s old hat, but this is clearly where they’re reconciling differences,” Cantor said, expressing concern that Democrats would rush the final text to the House floor for a vote to keep “sweeteners” used to buy off votes from being discovered.
Democrats are coalescing around a schedule for the bill’s route to the House floor for a vote. They are expecting a final score from the Congressional Budget Office later today.
On Monday, the House Budget Committee will mark the bill up, leading to an expected vote in the Rules Committee on Wednesday, with a final vote by the full House possible next weekend.
The question remains, however, whether Pelosi will even be able to round up enough votes to pass a bill.
Momentum continued to go the wrong direction for her on Friday, as two more Democrats said they are opposed to the bill.