Democrats Continue Tallying Health Bill Support; Republicans Criticize ‘Deem And Pass’ Rule
CQ Politics: "House leaders were to huddle late Tuesday afternoon, following a noon session of the full Democratic Caucus. There were reports they are having trouble drafting a bill that meets their budgetary targets." House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters the Congressional Budget Office "was still working on its estimate of the costs of the changes, which would be advanced under budget reconciliation rules." He said, though, that the expectation is still to "do health care reform later in the week" (3/16).
Politico: "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that Democrats don't yet have the votes to pass a bill this week and that they're still talking with every single member of the caucus. He also told reporters during his half-hour weekly news conference that he hopes to have language for a reconciliation bill finalized later in the day and defended the possible use of the rules to deem the Senate bill passed without forcing members to actually take the uncomfortable vote to support it." Hoyer said: "'The votes are close. People are concerned. It's controversial. Every member of our caucus wants to vote for health reform. ... And our expectation is when we bring this bill to the floor, we will have the votes for it.'" For now, though, Hoyer said he "defers to Majority Whip James Clyburn's judgment, who has also acknowledged that Democrats don't have the votes" (Hohmann, 3/16).
The New York Times Prescriptions Blog: Hoyer also defended "the use of a procedural tool that would allow the House to pass a sweeping health care bill without a direct up-or-down vote on the legislation. ... House Democrats are so skittish about the Senate bill that they are considering a maneuver that would allow them to pass it without explicitly voting for it. ... The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said she intended to bring the legislation to a final vote within the next few days. Mr. Hoyer minimized the significance of questions about procedure and insisted that the American people were more interested in the substance of the bill, intended to provide health insurance to more than 30 million people" (Pear, 3/16).
WSJ Washington Wire Blog: "Republicans have been complaining loudly about the legislative process used by the Democrats as they struggle to push their health overhaul over the finish line. In particular, GOP leaders have criticized the planned use of 'reconciliation,' .... More recently, they have also challenged Democrats for considering a tactic under which the House would 'deem,' or declare, the Senate version of the health bill passed, even as it makes changes to it. Under this plan, House members would not hold a separate, independent vote on the Senate bill, which many of them dislike" (Bendavid, 3/16).
CBS News: "Republicans from the start attacked the maneuver, pegging it as the 'Slaughter Solution,' in reference to House Rules Chairman Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). With new confirmation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday that Democrats may use the maneuver, Republicans revived their opposition to the plan." Republicans are also questioning the constitutionality of the Dem's legislative plan. And, despite their criticism, the GOP also have used this so-called "Slaughter Solution" (Condon, 3/16).
Politico's Live Pulse: Meanwhile, GOP leaders are planning a strategy to counter the Democrats' approach. "Republicans plan to force a vote on the House floor later this week that would require Democrats to vote directly on the Senate's health care bill, the latest volley in a procedural spat between the two parties over the upcoming reform vote. Democrats obviously have the votes to defeat the Republicans' resolution, but their members might not want to go on the record supporting the leadership's strategy to enact the Senate's bill without actually voting on it. ... The resolution would prevent Democrats from bringing the Senate bill to the floor, along with the negotiated changes, unless they allow both parties to debate it and require members to vote directly on its contents" (O'Connor, 3/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.