Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- In a last-ditch scheme in defiance of the Constitution, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic accomplices plan to send the Senate health care bill to President Obama without a clean, up-or-down vote on its merits.

As Democratic leaders struggled to find 216 votes to pass the bill by a majority vote, as required under the enacting procedures set forth in the Constitution, their fallback was a nefarious plan whereby the House would "deem" the legislation as passed so that vulnerable Democrats would not have to cast a recorded vote on the hugely unpopular bill.

"Last year, the House was passing bills without reading them. This year, they're passing bills without voting on them," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said last week.

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After more than a year of legislative combat over a bill that will effectively put a massive new government bureaucracy fully in charge of the nation's private health care system -- and impose a raft of new taxes on Americans, businesses and the economy -- Democrats had reached a stalemate that threatened to kill the centerpiece of Obama's presidency. Their problem: the Constitution's vexing requirement for a majority vote to enact bills into law.

Then Pelosi and her friends came up with an idea to get around the Constitution. The complicated maneuver, which has been in the planning stages for weeks, has received little or no detailed attention in the network nightly news shows and Democrats are happy about that. Perhaps the less the American people know about the Democrats' run around the Constitution, the better it is for Democrats and their plans for an unprecedented expansion of the government.

"It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know. But I like it, because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill," Pelosi told bloggers in a roundtable discussion Monday.

In a nutshell, Pelosi Democrats have decided to ram the Senate's 2,700 page, $1 trillion bill through the House under a shady tactic that has never been used on major pieces of legislation, known as a "self-executing rule" or a "deem and pass."

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.