March 16th, 2010
11:02 AM ET
8 years ago

Could House approve Senate health care bill without vote?

House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Monday he was ‘very comfortable’ that House Democrats would have the 216 votes necessary to pass the House.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Monday he was ‘very comfortable’ that House Democrats would have the 216 votes necessary to pass the House.

Washington (CNN) - Can the House of Representatives pass a health care bill without actually voting on it?

That question - bizarre to most casual political observers - took center stage Tuesday as top House Democrats struggled to find enough support to push President Barack Obama's top legislative priority over the finish line.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote later this week on the roughly $875 billion bill passed by the Senate in December. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, needs a bare majority of 216 votes from her 253-member caucus to pass the measure. No Republicans are expected to back it.

Pelosi's problem: A lot of House Democrats don't like the Senate bill. Among other things, some House members have expressed concern that the Senate bill does not include an adequate level of subsidies to help middle- and lower-income families purchase coverage. They also object to the Senate's proposed tax on high-end insurance plans.

Pelosi's solution: Have the House pass the Senate bill, but then immediately follow up with another vote in both chambers of Congress on a package of changes designed in part to make the overall legislation more acceptable to House Democrats.

Now, however, Pelosi may also try to help unhappy House Democrats by allowing them to avoid a direct up or down vote on the Senate bill. The speaker may call for a vote on a rule that would simply "deem" the Senate bill to be passed. The House would then proceed to a separate vote on the more popular changes to the Senate bill.

House GOP leaders will try to block the procedure, a House GOP aide told CNN Tuesday morning. They will try to force a vote on a resolution requiring the Senate health care bill to be brought to an actual up or down vote, the aide said.

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called the maneuver Pelosi's "scheme and deem" plan Tuesday morning. He said the maneuver was "jaw-dropping in its audacity."

The "process has been tainted," he said on the Senate floor. This "will go down as one of the most extraordinary legislative sleights of hand in history. ... Make no mistake: this will be a career-defining and a Congress-defining vote."

He said the "entire effort has been a travesty."

"To resort to these kinds of tactics to deal with this [bill] is just plain wrong," Rep. David Dreier, R-California, said Monday.

"While the process of lawmaking should be ugly, I have never seen it as ugly as it seems to be coming before us this week. ... I think that [James] Madison would be spinning in his grave at the fact that there is absolutely no accountability to what is taking place here."

Vince Morris, spokesman for House Rules Committee chair Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, said leaders haven't decided how the vote will be structured, but told CNN that folding the vote on the Senate bill into a rule vote is being considered.

"We're looking at a couple of different ways to get the bill to the floor and any path we take will obviously require a majority House vote," he said. "And it's worth pointing out that whatever we do will be built upon the precedents of the house and familiar to Republicans from when they held the majority."

–CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Alan Silverleib and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

This report was updated at 11:00 with new information.

Filed under: Health care • James Clyburn • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Senate
soundoff (146 Responses)
  1. gt

    do that and all americans will have a fit...

    March 16, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Dali Lama

    The end of the civilized world as we know it. And I thought the Chinese government was bad.

    March 16, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. JP

    Politics in the US was considered clean, for the people, by the people and such like things; but now even Iranian politics looks cleaner in front of this.

    March 16, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. Bush

    How do you like me now?

    March 16, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. Ben Rudd

    Pelosi's plan is the product of a warped mind.

    March 16, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Yeah, baby! Ram it down their throats. I can't wait to see Boner make his orange pouty face. I can't wait to hear the "real Americans" screaming "socialist takeover!!!!" Haha, stupid hicks. Just make sure that it, at least, has the public option or you get no votes from me come November. Have a nice day!

    March 16, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. inofritzn

    Wasn't Obama out there running his mouth about wanting an up or down vote? Great rhetoric, but you might want to have the votes for an up or down first moron.
    "Now, a separate legislative maneuver being advocated Monday by some Democrats would allow the House to avoid a direct up or down vote on the Senate bill"

    March 16, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    This is simply incredible...... At this point, I would not put anything past Nancy Pelosi....she is by far one of the most dangerous people in America today....and these methods are criminal at best.

    March 16, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. Kim

    If this plan is so great and will do so much good for the general population, my question is this: Why is it so difficult to get it passed by everyone, and not through some round-about way? I don't think it has anything to do with political party, I think it has to do with people really paying attention to the details and the impact it will really have, versus people who want to stay in favor with the current President. Our representatives in DC need to start listening to the people back home. President Obama spent last week meeting one on one with the reps who have openly said they will vote against the plan – an intimidation tactic if ever I saw one.

    March 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Jonathan

    This is truly sad. This Administration vowed change and the only change granted is more partisanship. The Dems are willing to sacrifice it all for one piece of legislation. This began with party leaders buying votes with earmarks. Now that the will of the people isn't there, the Dems are willing to commit political suicide in force feeding Americans bbamanology. The will of the American people must always be respected.

    March 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. BlackMANinterested..........

    GUESS WHAT Rep. David Dreier (R-CA)...................the "bill" has already passed in the Senate and why NOW are you hating the game when it's you and all the other GOP'ers who did the same thing a few years ago with Bush's "tax-cut-for-the-wealthy"? My how quick your mind becomes FEBBLE....................................or shall I say how quickly the GOP'ers DECIEVE America.

    March 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. James Madison

    (Spinning in grave) Mumble, mumble..groan. Oh, my, word. I was afraid of this. "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

    March 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. James Madison

    It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.
    James Madison

    March 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. James Madison

    The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.
    James Madison

    March 16, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Minnesota gal

    I am very confused about all this republican spinning about Democrats voting for the insurance bill. Now THEY know what is best for the country. NOW they know what Democrats should and should not do. NOW they say they know everything.

    What I want to know is....for eight years they screwed up every single solitary thing they touched. From starting a war by invading a country, something the United States in it's almost 300 year history had never done before. And it wasn't even the country that has attacked us. They screwed up Wall Street and the Big Banks by deregulating them. They screwed up the economy by giving the richest of the rich big tax breaks and giving corporations tax breaks to take all the good paying benefit jobs overseas. And you don't even want to get into the energy crisis they created.


    March 16, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Andrew Messenger

    Knowing that the majority of Americans are adversely against this legislation, the House will be writing their own pink slips by the very idea of using this tactic.

    In kind, states all over America are writing legal language to opt out and be excluded from this legislation altogether.

    So let the games continue.

    March 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. lyn

    Democrats get this health care bill pass we the people want this pass so get it done.The Republicans they will always say NO those norons are not there for us who need health care they only for which country they can go to WAR with, so America open your eyes those Republicans are not there for you who need health care,or jobs or getting the economy fix. -–DEMOCRATS GET THIS BILL PASS NOW.

    March 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Guest

    What a shame. is this democracy at work? I don't think so. Pelosi and Obama will stop at nothing to push this bill through as it is. What a bunch of devious people we have up there.

    March 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. James Madison

    The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.

    Don't let the government become the taker of your property through burdensome taxation.

    March 16, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. CEE

    It does not matter how it's done as long as it gets done.

    March 16, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. James Madison

    Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.
    James Madison

    March 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    They can do anything they want they are liberals. Rules and the constituion don't apply to them. The corrupt, theiving liberals and the big crook in the White House should be voted out in the elections. But by then they will probably have cancelled the elections because they know in their smarmy, elitist way what is best for this country.

    March 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Anonymous

    That man is in sore need of some eye drops! Would someone get him off the hooch?

    March 16, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. Ron in California

    The political ariistocrats are going ot pay the price in November for their arrognace. This may be cause worth fixing but not the way tyhe have gone about it. Vote the bums out.

    March 16, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  25. Truth

    They don't get that the American people don't want this bill!

    March 16, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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