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.
This is one of the slimiest things I have seen yet within politics.
We have the Dems attempting to circumvent the process of the majority vote in order to shove through a legislation that clearly abuses the disabled and elderly.
This is beyond wrong and we end up having no accountability or checks and balances. Why do we even have elections? Clearly the Obama administration wishes to eliminate the choices of the people that are have been elected to the Senate.
Somehow someone needs to stop this steam roller policy. We've had enough of it, now we have a new administration trying it in a really dirty way.
Is this really democratic? And to think that the media blindly goes along with all of this oppressive antimajoritarian tactics. The end justifies the means to the "mainstream" media.
And this is how liberty ends....in thunderous applause. What a sad day for liberty? A revolution will be in the making. History is all about cause and effect. To all of the people who support this, be careful what you wish for.
all democrats are idiots that should leave America. That's the best idea yet.
These politicians lack honor. Anyone remember that quality? Represent the people that elected you. Honor your agreement and pledge to the people that put their faith in you. Obama, Pelosi and Reid, did not elect you – your constituents did.
Dig deep – you may find some honor in there.
Doing that would start a civil war.................
There will be riots in the streets. I would not want to be a congressman who goes along with this. Not safe
Should the Pelosi and the rest of the house persue this route, We the People need to immediately remove them ALL from office for violating their oath of office.
This is very obviously a blatant attempt to avoid the constitutional requirement for an explicit roll call vote by BOTH houses. This in turn will make the bill itself unenforceable.
The real problem then is who will mount the legal challenge to the courts? Right now we do not have anyone on the repub side that has the stature, nor the cajones to do so.
Personally, should this pass, and no action is taken to declare it unconstitutional, some selective assassinations may be in order.
Now we are hearing the House will try to pass the Bill without voting on it.
Cram what where?
This must be the parachuting in that Pelosi mentioned.
I sense a revolt brewing. And then Obama asking for emergency powers. Where have I heard of that before? Star Wars... Oh yeah; early 20th Century Germany!
Well, we got to do what we got to do, period!
It's high time to finally get things done. Let pass the health care and face the consequences, if any.
Enough is enough. We need to pass it and move on. Period!!
? no comments?
80% of those surveyed don't support this bill if it will kill their grandma. 20% hate their grandma.
Oh please do dummies.
Go ahead and pass it Dems...your careers will be over.
Where's my whip? I know it's around here somewhere.
Dang Republicans. Always obstructing me from doing my business.
Now where do you suppose they hid my whip?
Congressional liberals, devoid of a stated agenda and seemingly incapable of bipartisanship for the peoples' benefit, continue their short sighted campaigns which impair homeland security, promote socialist entitlement, attack the sanctity of marriage, pledge amnesty for illegal aliens and inject political correctness as a justifiable means to counter common sense and logical thought.
Pelosi and her liberal allies promote class warfare tactics to divide America into phantom groups of haves and have-nots. Pelosi and her colleagues refuse to provide quantifiable definitions for campaign phrases such as “middle-class.” The term “middle-class,” like “working Americans” and “the rich,” has value only in its ability to divide by creating class envy among Americans who perceive themselves as victims.
I believe the actual word for this entire process at this point is called TYRANNY......plain and simple.
Could I just pass the rest of my agenda without anymore votes? Let's have some courage!
It is very sad that people could be so 'cold hearted' to block a bill that would give people health care, the President is trying so hard to do what is right for the American people because he is a great man with a good heart. The Republicans had 8 years to do something about health care and they did nothing, what was their excuse then..because Obama is fighting to get this bill pass they (the repulsives) are doing whatever they can together with the cold, hard hearted americans who they serve to deny people their health insurance. Last night on Larry King I heard the Republican congress woman (can't think of her name) made a statement which blew me away, she said something to the effect that people should be responsible for purchasing their own insurance, well 'madam' there are some people who are struggling to put food on the table, some who lost their jobs...how on earth are to pay for their health insurance. They are the ones who are paying the members in power their salary, how cold can you be. I hope the President gets this through.
God bless you President Obama!!
What sort of DICTATORSHIP are these democrat goons running?Its time to take back America!
So tell me who supports a bill that the Democrats want to pass with no vote, so they dont have to go on record as voting for it..... are we the American people that stupid to keep supporting these Dems ???
Now, son, don't go mouthin' off to me like that! You ask before you just take anymore cookies from the cookie jar.
Change? I'll change that smirk right off your face if I catch you in that cookie jar! I don't care if your sister Pelosi wants one, too! Go on, get!!
After seeing Boner on Sunday tv talk, I hope they pass it in the most controversial means possible, just to see him throw another of his tantrums.
I don't like the bill, but we need to get something started; the current situation of outrageously rising health care costs is unsustainable for individuals and business. Sounds like they are improving (but not enough) the recently passed prescription drug bill passed by the Repugs; maybe this misnamed "health care reform" bill will get better with time.
Pelosi & Co. have really gone off the deep end.
They don't have enough support from their own party to pass this horrible bill, so they are going to use a trick to pass it without actually voteing for it?
There you go libs, your party is officially turning against even you.
November cannot come soon enough.
More political manuvering. I repeat again, if this bill was any good would the Dems really stuggle this hard to pass it???
How do you like me now? Oh, Bush already said that! My bad.