Republicans to Try to Stop Slaughter Rule for Pro-Abortion Health Care Thursday

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republicans to Try to Stop Slaughter Rule for Pro-Abortion Health Care Thursday

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — House Republicans plan to attempt on Thursday to stop Democrats from using the Slaughter Rule, a procedural motion that would allow the House to pass the pro-abortion Senate health care bill by a procedural motion "deeming" it passed without actually taking a vote on it.

GOP lawmakers hope to force a vote tomorrow on a motion that would say Democrats can’t use the Slaughter Rule to bypass a direct vote.

While they would likely have not have the votes to force the issue, some Democrats may not want to go on record as supporting a controversial plan to pass the Senate bill without actually voting on it.

Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith, a Republican who recently switched parties, will sponsor the resolution.

The idea would also give Republicans a bit of a public relations advantage as Democrats would have to explain to Americans why they would prefer passing the bill without allowing a vote on it directly, says David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner.

"Process stories don’t usually get legs outside of Washington, but the health care bill is being watched by so many people that any attempt to pass it without a vote will probably exacerbate Democrats’ plight," he said.

"They’re trying to defend themselves against the talking point that they voted for the corrupt elements of the Senate bill," Freddoso added. "But in doing this, they’re also opening themselves up to another talking point — namely that they tried to evade responsibility for their unpopular health care bill by avoiding a vote on it."

Should Democrats ultimately use the Slaughter Rule to move the pro-abortion Senate health care bill forward, they could face lawsuits afterwards.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that legal challenges could come based on the substance of the bill and the procedure.

"There will be both challenges to the substance of the legislation and also the procedure by which it was done if they use this deeming procedure," he said, according to The Hill.

Kyl says he is concerned that if the House approves the bill without or without the Slaughter Rule, that there is little that can be done to stop it from there.

"In some respects, the battle will have been lost at that point," he said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Tuesday that she has not yet made a decision on whether to use the Slaughter Rule.

“We have several options available to us,” Pelosi said, according to Roll Call, and admitted many Democrats don’t like the Senate bill. “There are a lot of members who don’t want to vote for it."

The process has become so controversial that even the Washington Post issued an editorial Tuesday saying the Slaughter Rule "strikes us as a dodgy way to reform the health care system."

"The health-care debate has been going on longer than a year, and House members want to get it over with," the Post’s editorial board wrote. "These are understandable desires, but they don’t outweigh the need for a reasonable process on a matter of such importance."

On a potential lawsuit, Amy Ridenour at the National Center Blog points out that a key Supreme Court decision on the line-item veto from 1998 has implications for the Slaughter Rule.

The high court, in Clinton vs. City of New York, ruled the specialized veto unconstitutional but it also spelled out how bills become law.

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted, "a bill containing its exact text was approved by a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives, the Senate approved precisely the same text; and that text was signed into law by the President. The Constitution explicitly requires that each of those three steps be taken before a bill may ‘become a law.’ Art. I, Section 7."

"If one paragraph of that text had been omitted at any one of those three stages, Public Law 105–33 would not have been validly enacted," the high court said, according to Ridenour.

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