Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deem and Pass has passed away. Let us deem it a good thing


The Hill reports that Democratic leaders have decided not to use a deem and pass rule to pass health care reform. There will be separate votes on the rule, the Senate bill and the reconciliation measure.

I think this is good news on a number of fronts. First, although I think that the House had the right to use a self-executing rule for this legislation, it was pretty clearly a political distraction that gave all sorts of political benefits to opponents of health care reform, who could hijack the conversation to process issues. (For example, that's all I've been doing on this blog for the past several days!) Moreover, as I noted earlier in my discussions of the constitutionality of deem and pass, I believe that the Democrats who support health care reform should have the political fortitude to make difficult choices and cast difficult votes, even if the Constitution does not require it.

Second, the decision to hold two votes instead of one signals that the House leadership believes that they may actually get more votes this way than using the tactic of deem and pass. This suggests that Democrats in the House recognize that showing a little political fortitude is also good politics.

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