Dems Move Forward With ‘Deem And Pass’ Strategy; Some Holdouts Express Support
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "The House will have a clean up-or-down vote on the Senate's healthcare vote in the form of a rules vote, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. As Democrats prepare to move forward with health reform efforts, Hoyer seemed to confirm the so-called 'deem and pass' strategy that would see the House indirectly approve the Senate's health bill through a vote on a rule making changes to it. ... The majority leader seemed to signal that Democrats were likely to opt for the maneuver, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had said Tuesday was only among a range of options under consideration by Democrats. ... Hoyer appeared on ABC to help bolster the case for the controversial healthcare maneuver, nicknamed the "Slaughter solution" for Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter" (O'Brien, 3/17).
The Associated Press: "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer declined to say Wednesday if Democrats have enough votes to pass historic health care legislation, but hinted that they're poised to use an arcane parliamentary process to get it done. Hoyer's Republican counterpart, Rep. Eric Cantor, acknowledged that such a process is permissible under House rules" [but] "said he couldn't understand why Democrats would use such a parliamentary detour with a bill of this magnitude and reach. ... The partisan parrying has increased in intensity in the past few days. ... In the interview Wednesday, Hoyer, D-Md., maintained that support for the 10-year, $1 trillion health care remake has gone up in recent weeks" (3/16).
CNN: "Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich's announcement Wednesday morning that he will support the Senate's health care legislation has reduced the bill's opponents in the House to 204, now 12 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent President Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority." According to CNN's ongoing calculations, "26 House Democrats, including nine who supported the House plan in November, have indicated that they would join a unified Republican caucus in opposing the Senate plan. ... Nonetheless, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut said Monday after a meeting with rank-and-file Democrats that "the votes are there" to pass the health care bill" (Riley and Simon, 3/17).
The New York Times Prescriptions Blog: "Representative Dale Kildee, Democrat of Michigan and a strong opponent of abortion, announced on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the provisions in the Senate-passed health care bill that seek to limit the use of federal money for insurance coverage of abortion. The announcement by Mr. Kildee that he would support the health care legislation and would not oppose it based on the abortion issue gave a huge lift to House Democratic leaders, who have been working to assure abortion opponents that a vote for the bill would not reflect any change in policy on abortion, including the law known as the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the use of federal money for abortion in most cases" (Herszenhorn, 3/17).
Roll Call: "Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.), one of the staunchest anti-abortion-rights Democrats in the House, said Wednesday he will now back the health care overhaul. Oberstar supported the original House health care bill that passed last fall and had been one of the Democratic holdouts to the Senate-passed plan because of its language on abortion. He is the latest Democrat to publicly lend support for reform." Oberstar told reporters he believes the Senate's abortion language "is consistent with the Hyde amendment banning federal funding for the procedure" (Dennis, 3/17).
Roll Call, in a separate story: On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are circulating a letter designed to "assuage nervous House members" regarding the health care conciliation bill process. However, "without an actual bill," this effort may fall short." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "asked Senators to come to his office to sign the letter" as an assurance that they would have the 51 votes or more "needed to pass the reconciliation measure" (Pierce, 3/17).
USA Today's On Politics: "Senate Democratic leaders are talking about securing 51 Senate sponsors on the reconciliation bill. That could give the House some level of comfort, since it will take 51 senators to pass the bill." A spokesman for Reid told USA Today this option "was expected to be a topic of conversation" at today's caucus meeting (Kiely, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.