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Passing health reform without a vote?
Dems are considering passing health reform using a shortcut that would avoid another full-fledged House vote. Smart move or undemocratic trickery?
 
Tea partiers protest on Capitol Hill.
Tea partiers protest on Capitol Hill.
Getty

With the final showdown over the health-care bill looming, House Democratic leaders say they're considering using an arcane parliamentary shortcut that would avoid a direct vote on the Senate version of the bill, a version many Democratic representatives don't like. Instead, the House would take up a "budget reconciliation" bill containing changes, and, if that were to pass, the Senate bill would be "deemed passed," too. Is this "a sneaky snake oil gimmick," as one Republican complained, or just smart politics? (Watch Rep. James Clyburn defend "deem and pass")

The Democrats are trashing democracy: "This two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability," say the editors of The Wall Street Journal. This shocking procedural "ruse" is intended to let Democrats approve the "special-interest bribes" in the Senate bill, while insisting they opposed them. That's wrong.
"Slaughter House rules"

This is a perfectly legitimate way to pass a bill: It's "misleading and inflammatory" for Republicans and political commentators to scream that Democrats are passing health reform without a vote, says David Waldman in Daily Kos. Under this rule, everyone in the House who votes for the reconciliation bill will be casting a vote for the Senate bill, as written. That's exactly what's required by the Constitution.
"Stupid headline tricks"

The GOP's phony outrage is disgusting and hypocritical: Republicans used the same "self-executing rule" 35 times in the last Congress they controlled (2005 to 2006), says Norm Ornstein in The American. It's wrong for the Democrats to use it now, since they complained about it back then. But the "feigned indignation" of the Republicans and "their acolytes at The Wall Street Journal" takes Washington hypocrisy to a shameless new level.
"Hypocrisy: A Parliamentary Procedure"

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SEE MORE OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
Will health care pass this week?
Obamacare: Can Pelosi find the votes?
Can Obama still sell health care?
Health care: Obama declares war
Are Dems caving on health care?
Health reform: Suicide for Dems?

 

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