House Paves Way for Slaughter Rule to Pass Pro-Abortion Health Care Without Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 18, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Paves Way for Slaughter Rule to Pass Pro-Abortion Health Care Without Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 18
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The House voted 222-203 today against a bipartisan measure to stop Democrats from using the Slaughter Rule to approve the pro-abortion Senate health care bill without taking a vote. The move sets up a vote Sunday afternoon on the procedural motion that would "deem" the bill passed.

Some 28 Democrats joined every House Republican in supporting the GOP measure to stop the Slaughter Rule.

The vote concerns pro-life advocates because abortion activists need 216 votes to approve the motion for the Senate bill and they had six more than necessary to defeat the Republican motion.

However, most analysts believe Democrats don’t yet have the votes to get the Slaughter Rule approved.

After the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed as a “nonissue” using a procedural process to pass a bill instead of taking a vote on the bill itself.

Daniel Foster of the conservative National Review thinks Democrats will suffer publicly from using the controversial process to approve the much-maligned bill without a vote.

"I’ll be honest. I had started to wonder whether this Slaughter Rule business was a bait-and-switch. I couldn’t imagine that, with the pounding Democratic leadership have taken over the deem-and-pass strategy, there was any profit left in pushing it," he said.

"After all, the point was to provide Democrats with political cover, via procedural obscurity, for a vote in favor of the Senate bill. But the procedure is no longer obscure and the cover is now a fig leaf," he added.

Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith, a pro-life Republican who recently switched parties, sponsored the resolution.

The vote opens up Democrats to potential lawsuits on the bill.

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.

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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