Democrats May Use Slaughter Rule to Pass Pro-Abortion Health Care Without Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 11, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrats May Use Slaughter Rule to Pass Pro-Abortion Health Care Without Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 11
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — As Democratic leaders in Congress plot their next move on how to get the pro-abortion Senate health care bill through the House, a new strategy has developed apart from the reconciliation plan that has pro-life advocates concerned they could pass the bill without taking a vote on it.

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter has developed an idea she has not yet presented to Speaker Nancy Pelosi but is one that received considerable attention from political observers yesterday.

When the House considers any legislation on the floor, it first adopts a Rule for debate that sets the parameters for debate, amendments and other procedures.

The problem Democrats have in the House is that pro-life Democrats are joining with Republicans to hold up the Senate bill because it contains massive abortion funding and other pro-abortion problems.

To get around that, Slaughter has mentioned proposing a Rule that would "deem" the Senate bill having already passed the House without an actual vote by members of the House.

The Rule would apply to the reconciliation package that makes the changes Democrats need to secure enough votes.

Under the Slaughter Rule, a majority would be needed to approve it and the idea behind adopting it is to give Democrats in tough re-election campaigns the ability to say they didn’t vote for what is an unpopular pro-abortion health care bill. Instead, they can say they merely voted on a procedural rule.

The idea has drawn guffaws from across the conservative blogosphere.

Newt Gingrich reacted this way: "Incredible. We’ve gone from passing bills without reading them to passing bills without voting on them."

"Are they out of their minds? What, the town hall meetings of last summer were too genteel and conciliatory for House Democrats’ tastes?" Daniel Foster wrote at National Review. "We’ve long suspected that the Constitution means nothing to our counterparts on the left, but the idea of working around the requirement that bills be passed by the House strikes a new and disturbing we’ve-lost-democracy note."

Leon Wolf of Red State called the Slaughter Rule "an end-run around one of the most basic Constitutional principles taught in Junior High Civics – the mechanism by which a bill becomes law."

"Having determined that they lack the votes in the House to pass the Senate bills as-is, House Democrats are attempting one of the most breathtakingly unconstitutional power grabs ever witnessed – a maneuver to deem the Senate bill already passed by the House by rule, despite the fact that it clearly has not," he added. "They already know the American people don’t want this bill. They know by now that what they’re trying to do is illegal. The question now is whether they still have the shame to care about either."

Slaughter is waiting for the CBO to come back with numbers on the reconciliation package before presenting her idea to Pelosi.

House Democrats are meeting today to discuss the legislation and soon will have to come up with a plan for getting it passed and getting around the objections pro-life Democrats have on the Senate bill. Whether they will support the Slaughter Rule is another question.

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