Pelosi Passes on Deem and Pass

We have been following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to use the controversial “deem and pass” tactic to pass the health care bill to help members avoid accountability for voting for the unpopular Senate bill. Now, after a week of widespread condemnations, Pelosi has backed down and said that there will be a straight vote.

In my view the use of a self-executing rule was constitutional but unprincipled (here). I was shocked that Pelosi would not only invoke such a procedure (which was denounced by Democrats when the GOP used it), but to be so open in her effort to help members avoid accountability for their votes.

What I find astonishing is how poorly the Democrats have handled this matter. As I stated on Countdown this week, I thought that the Democrats had miscalculated in the use of the deem and pass tactic because, in my view, the GOP could easily derail the tactic in the Senate through challenges. It also created a universal view that the Democrats were playing fast and loose with the rules because they lacked the needed votes.

The end result is that Pelosi succeeded in added a layer of controversy to the legislation and handing the GOP a victory. There is no evidence of a strategy in this effort as opposed to small insular tactical moves by the House leadership. That has made it easy for the GOP.

I cannot imagine how you could foul up this process more than what has been done by House and Senate leaders. This all began with a Democratic Senate bill loaded with obscene give-aways and special deals — inviting attacks from critics. The deal for Nebraska’s Ben Nelson was not just wrong, it was moronic. The Democrats loaded up the bill to buy votes instead to fighting on principle. Ultimately, Nelson agreed to vote for the bill without the pay off. The reconciliation bill was needed to try to strip away those provisions. Because of that bad play, the Democrats lost their window of opportunity — and their filibuster proof majority.

They may still be able to pull this out today, but make no mistake about it: these delays have been due less to cunning GOP moves than remarkably poor management by the Democratic leadership, including the White House.

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17 thoughts on “Pelosi Passes on Deem and Pass”

  1. The republicans will have a hard time repealing this. They have not had much success with Medicare or Social Security. The only way the dems can possibly pass this is with Stupak.

  2. To Blouise

    To paraphrase Jimi Hendrix: Obama may want a second term but he sure “don’t know how to go about gettin’ it.”

  3. “Rep. Stupak Will Vote “Yes” for HCR After Executive Order on Abortion Is Agreed To”


    National Organization of Women press release on March 21, 2010

    “President Obama Breaks Faith with Women”

    “The National Organization for Women is incensed that President Barack Obama agreed today to issue an executive order designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. Through this order, the president has announced he will lend the weight of his office and the entire executive branch to the anti-abortion measures included in the Senate bill, which the House is now prepared to pass.”

  4. Pelosi is dam good at her job … the threat was enough to get what she wanted! The GOP doesn’t have anyone in their leadership or in the “up and coming” boyos who possess the abilities she possesses and Obama is dam lucky she’s the one sitting in the Speaker’s chair … she’s constantly pulling his fat out of the fire.

    Too bad the Senate is such a train wreck … it’d be a different story if Hillary had stayed put and taken over Reid’s job. Those two women would have completely cleaned the GOP’s clock.

    Obama as a “figure-head” … yeah … he could have reveled in beer-fests and run all over the world accepting meaningless awards while the two women cleaned up the 8 year Bush/Cheney mess and put the country back on track.

  5. I’m not so sure that suggesting the use of “deem and pass” was as bad an idea as it seems at first blush. The GOP was going to attack passage over the perfectly normal “vote for the senate bill, then modify it in reconciliation” procedure. Pelosi comes up with the outrageous “deem and pass” trick, and suddenly the original procedure seems so benign. I think Pelosi may have taken one of the GOP’s attack lines away.

  6. The only aspect more perverse than the behavior of the president and his party leaders is the expenditure by insurance companies of many millions to, ostensibly, defeat the bill.

    Presumably the insurance companies feel compelled to buy some plausible deniability of the distinct appearance of the bill as, first, and foremost, an industry profit augmentation guarantee.

  7. The GOP’s assault on the deem and pass process was so incredibly hyperbolic and hypocritical it made my head spin. To suggest that a procedure used over 30 times in 2005 alone by the last (hopefully in history) GOP-held House illustrates how far from reality the GOP operates. They uproar caused was unnecessary and, as usual, based on lies and is, therefore, significant evidence of the conservative controlled media’s ability to control the message even if it’s untrue.

  8. This health care bill and the hideous process it has taken to get it near passage is emblematic of Obama’s leadership style, one that avoids confrontation and decision at all costs. I laugh every time he says that this isn’t a perfect bill. In fact, IT IS the imperfect bill he allowed to fester in the absence of any real leadership. “Guiding principles,” which he so eloquently laid out months and months ago, are not leadership. Leadership takes work and engagement, and not just back room deals with big pharmaceutical corporations.

    Furthermore, I find it highly ironic that he blasts the Supreme Court for their recent ruling on a corporation’s ability to engage in elections (proposterous), all the while creating IRS forced payments to private health insurance companies and sweet heart deals for the pharmaceutical companies, all at the expense of the citizenry (equally as preposterous). I wouldn’t have a problem if there was a Medicare buy-in or other public option. But to force the major carriers on us is beyond sick. Has anyone else noticed health care stocks going up this week? This doesn’t happen when something is going to be bad for an industry.

  9. Jonathan,

    I am curious what YOU think of the fact that Congress (Federal Government) already “mandate” workers to “buy” health care and has for years?

    1. When you are working – regardless of age – the Federal Government has, for years, “mandated” that workers “buy” into Medicare – even though they will not be a Medicare recipient until age 65.

    2. When a worker, or anyone, turns 65 the Federal Government “Mandates” the worker become a Medicare recipient.

    Therefore, wouldn’t those 2 facts above thwart any law suit the GOP may bring against the federal government if the current Senate Health Care Bill passes?

    I hope you read this question and answer it.


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