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

Could House approve Senate health care bill without vote?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="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. Jake

    Hey NObama promised "CHANGE" and you bought it.Now you will get change without a vote.I guess the "YES WE CAN" was yes we can screw the American people.DO IT DEMS,COME NOVEMBER WE WILL BE RID OF YOU AND NOBAMA WILL BE LAME.

    March 16, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. gerald strother

    cnn come on get a life!!

    March 16, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Capt. Snarky

    Yeah, do it. Then pop open a beer, sit back, and watch the people revolt.
    The bloodshed will be entertaining......

    March 16, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. dg

    if this passes america is doomed

    March 16, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. Race

    Pass it at your own peril. The American public has been polled continually the last few months and support has only dropped for this healthcare charade. Almost 60% of Americans don't want it and realize it will not improve our costs or Healthcare.

    March 16, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. pj

    Forget what the GOP is saying about the health care bill. Forget what the Tea Party is saying. Forget about the fact the the majority of Americans are against it. Just look at the bribery, wheeling and dealing, back room meetings, arm twisting, and political chicanery it is taking for Pelosi, Reid, and Obama to get the magic number of votes to pass this mess.

    Are they so desperate to pass this just to show that they could do it? Is this the arrogance that our legislative process has degenerated to?

    It's just sad that we, as a country, have come to this.

    March 16, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Bob in Pa.

    Slightly unconstitutional and probably cause for a revolution.

    March 16, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Ron

    Unbelievable how corrupt and dishonest this government is. And Congress wonders why their approval rating is below 20%? Throw every one of these bums out in November and get people who actually care about the American people. Disgusting........Totally disgusting........

    March 16, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Don

    Wake up America. If the biggest majority of the people don't want health care change that is being offered, shouldn't our Senators and Congressman take note on this matter? Come on guys, your people are speaking, are you not listening? You are trying to shove health care down the voters throats that don't want it. You are creating an even bigger debt and have no means of a plan to pay for it. The old saying is when you don't have the money for something you want, you need to find a way to pay for it before you jump in and go forward with your plans. Please don't create a bigger problem than we already have.

    March 16, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Chris - Denver

    Just pass it already!

    March 16, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Bill K NY

    The "Slaughter Solution" is the end of representative government in America.

    March 16, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. Sonner1500

    If the den of liars and thieves in Washington who are masquerading as representives of the People, complete this "end run" around the Constitution, it is time the American People respond emphatically by refusing to pay Individual, State, Federal, and Corporate income taxes. They are stealing us blind in broad daylight and laughing all the way to the bank. What impudent fools we are if we allow this tyranny to continue.

    March 16, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    An immediate challenge must be mounted, and this illegal and unconstitutional maneuvering MUST be presented to the United States Supreme Court NOW! Using "deem and pass" to slide through the Senate's legilation is unconstitutional in that it bypasses the methodology specifically outlined in the US Constitution. Not to mention that it is a complete and utter slap in the face to the majority of Americans.

    What won't this power-hungry dangerous woman do if this manuever works? Power corrupts. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely!

    March 16, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  14. Replace BO with Romney

    Those that support the passage of an enormous, unfinished bill using a questionable procedure should be booted out of government service (including losing benefits). If the bill was any good, it would have already passed.

    The bill doesn't even address the problems of healthcare, but the symptoms as they relate to insurance.

    March 16, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. al in memphis

    I wish that these people would just do their job. It should be easy to vote for something that we all agree needs to improve. I understand it has to be done the right way. But, how long does it take people with opposing views about how to do something to come up with something that works toward solving a problem that both agree exist.

    If we can figure out what DNA does, then I know we can figure out how to spend a little less money on this bill and other areas of the budget to pay for what a health care bill would cost. Maybe we should stop providing police service to the world and let our friendly partners foot their own bill.

    March 16, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. Kevin in Ohio

    Something must be done! Write your Congressman if he or she will listen to reason! Write your Senator if he or she will listen to reason! This is the ultimate death knell for our democracy!

    March 16, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Will

    Pelosi and Slaughter were both part of a campaign to declare the Republican's use of a self-executing rule as unconstitutional, now they are using the same dirty tactics to pass their own pet projects without following due process.

    March 16, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Bob

    Typical of a Pelosi driven desire to carry on the Obama promise of "change" no matter what the damage. Hey, if I go out and wreck my car today, I can honestly say my car has "changed" but does that make it better?!? Listen to Pelosi articulate her postion. Do you honestly feel she has a grip on what America wants or needs? At this point, American needs have nothing to do with it.

    March 16, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. Richie in Mass

    This bill is so good that they want to bypass actually voting on it so they can say they didn't vote for it. Yeah Great Bill!! They haven't even read what the ammendments are. They have no cost from the CBO yet they want to ram it through. Voters aren't stupid. If they pass this without voting on it the carnage in November will be worse. Obama is still spreading his lies about how this will save you money when his leading Democrats in the Senate have said " anyone telling you that this will stop the rate hikes is lying to you" Well Mr President , stop lying. If this bill was so good you could sell it on its merits instead he has to twist the truth ( or as non politicians call it " Lying")

    Pelosi can't even say it's great by having people not actually vote on it in hopes that this will save them at the polls in the fall. Nice transparency. Will the new fixes be posted for 5 days so we can read them? Of course not. Only the Cornhusker kickback is being removed. The Louisiana purchase is staying in and that was a payoff to get her to vote for it. Nice " change we can believe in". Gatorade, still in there so Florida elderly are treated better than all other states. Jimmy Carter is loving this. He won't be the worst Democrat to ever be president in the last 100 years. Obama is grabbing that title. I wonder if this will be called a " Historic Failure"? Everything else Obama does is called Historic.

    March 16, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Ron L

    Health reform now!

    March 16, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    I thought Obama wanted an up or down vote on this disaster. That is, until he realized that he didn't even have enough support in his own party.

    So let's see... a supermajority is fine, until we don't have one. Then a simple majority is fine, until we don't have one. Then, I guess we'll just have to cheat. And they wonder why they're going to get trounced in November.

    March 16, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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