“The Slaughter of Demon Pass” sounds like a Louis L’Amour novel, doesn’t it? We only wish it were the title of an entertaining novel. However, it’s a play on words about the latest conniving of the Democrat-majority House of Representatives. The concept being parodied is a little-used (and always controversial when used) parliamentary procedure called “Deem and Pass”.
The The Wall Street Journal has a good summary of this labyrinthian and incomprehensible set of rules that are being used to ram legislation through the fragile parchment of the Consitution.
“We’re not sure American schools teach civics any more, but once upon a time they taught that under the U.S. Constitution a bill had to pass both the House and Senate to become law. Until this week, that is, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving to merely ‘deem’ that the House has passed the Senate health-care bill and then send it to President Obama to sign anyway. Under the ‘reconciliation’ process that began [Monday] afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill and then use ‘sidecar’ amendments to fix the things it doesn’t like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation. This alone is an abuse of traditional Senate process. But Mrs. Pelosi & Co. fear they lack the votes in the House to pass an identical Senate bill, even with the promise of these reconciliation fixes. House Members hate the thought of going on record voting for the Cornhusker kickback and other special-interest bribes that were added to get this mess through the Senate, as well as the new tax on high-cost insurance plans that Big Labor hates. So at the Speaker’s command, New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a ‘self-executing rule,’ also known as a ‘hereby rule.’ Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House — even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill. Democrats would thus send the Senate bill to President Obama for his signature even as they claimed to oppose the same Senate bill. They would be declaring themselves to be for and against the Senate bill in the same vote. Even John Kerry never went that far with his Iraq war machinations. … This two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a ‘Bill’ to ‘become a Law,’ it ‘shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.’ This is why the House and Senate typically have a conference committee to work out differences in what each body passes. … If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of [James] Madison’s core checks and balances.”
Did you understand all that? If not, don’t feel too bad. As an American, you are right in assuming that this is evil deception masquerading as “getting it done”. Your high school civics teacher was right when he/she taught you that a bill must pass a clear vote of a majority in both the House and Senate.
The Democrats, however, are counting on you having a short memory following this fiasco. They’re counting on you saying “Ah, well. Whaddrya gonna do,” then leaning back in your cozy recliner, tuning into American Idol, and turning off your brain.
- Slaughter House Rules (online.wsj.com)
- Firestorm erupts as Dems weigh a shortcut (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Pence blasts Slaughter Rule on House floor (hotair.com)
- GOP says Dems’ plan on health bill abuses rules (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- House Dems may try new tactic in health care vote (cnn.com)
- An unconstitutional solution (powerlineblog.com)
- Health Care Opponents Demonize ‘Deem And Pass’ As The Media Gets It Wrong [UPDATE] (huffingtonpost.com)
- Stupid headline tricks (dailykos.com)
- House Democrat holdouts wrestle with health care vote (cnn.com)
- Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About the Slaughter Solution (minx.cc)
- House Democrats’ Healthcare Reform Plans Are Unconstitutional (usnews.com)
- The End of Irony (themoderatevoice.com)
- Bachmann: Americans ‘Have Standing To Sue’ If House Uses Self-Executing Rule To Pass Health Care (thinkprogress.org)