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Pelosi Considering Extreme Tactic for Health Care Passage

By Randy Sly
March 16th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to pass health care so badly that she may try to attempt it without taking a vote. At the same time, America remembers one presidential candidate´s promise for a clear majority.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants to pass health care, even if it means doing so without taking a vote. House Democrats are looking at using a strategy where they would approve the Senate bill by "deeming" it to have passed. This would make the Senate bill a part of a separate measure governing the rules of a House debate on a follow-up healthcare measure.

Once this legislation is "deemed" to have passed, the House would vote only on a budget "reconciliation" bill.

In a political climate where the American public is already disgusted with the Congressional gymnastics implemented for passage, many political pundits see such a move as political suicide and possibly as unconstitutional.

Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University told David Lightman of McClatchy News Service, "This sort of thing does happen all the time. But in the healthcare debate, Republicans have been effectively arguing Democrats are using exotic procedures to pass important legislation. "That's a tough argument to refute."

Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann told USA Today that the "deem and pass" strategy that is being considered by House Democrats is not that unusual. He explained that it has been used to manage "difficult partisan issues," citing the ban on smoking during domestic airline flights as one example. Mann reported that Congress used the procedure 36 times in 2005 and 2006, with a GOP was majority, and 49 times in 2007 and 2008, when the Democrats took control.

The question is whether the controversial health care reform bill should be enacted using such extreme measures.

The Senate´s tactic of "reconciliation" coupled with the House´s new thoughts about "deeming" the bill could also further jeopardize the already shaky relationship of the Obama administration with the American public. Campaign promises made by the President are coming back to haunt him.

In July of 2006 at the Center for American Progress, then Senator Obama stated, "You know, one of the arguments that sometimes I get with my fellow progressives – and some of these have flashed up in the blog communities on occasion – is this notion that we should function sort of like Karl Rove, where we identify our core base, we throw them red meat, we get a 50-plus-1 victory. But see, Karl Rove doesn't need a broad consensus, because he doesn't believe in government. If we want to transform the country, though, that requires a sizable majority."

Speaking to supporters about the need for health care reform at the "Change to Win" convention on Sept. 25, 2007, Obama stated, "The question, once again, is: Who can get it done? Who can build a movement for change? This is an area where we're going to have to have a 60 percent majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We're going to have to have a majority, to get the bill to my desk, that is not just a 50-plus-1 majority."

According to the Associated Press, President Obama is still lobbying heavily with Capitol Hill moderates. Freshman Congressional Representatives Scott Murphy, D-NY, and Suzanne Kosmas, D-FL, were invited to a meeting at the White House that did not appear on his public schedule.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who opposed the legislation last year, flew with President on Air Force One to an appearance in Kucinich's home district on Monday. Kucinich, who wanted a larger government role in health care, reportedly is not ruling out a "yes" vote for the current bill.

Republicans are expressing strong objections to the tactics being employed to pass this legislation. Rep. David Dreier, R-CA, told McClatchy News "It's very painful and troubling to see the gymnastics by which they're going to avoid accountability."

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Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

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