The Democrats' push for taking over the nation's health-care system is now in full-blown banzai mode. Most of the attention this week has centered on talk that the U.S. Senate will resort to "reconciliation," which Republicans called the "nuclear option" and Democrats until quite recently called the "we would never use that."
But Democrats in the U.S. House have a parliamentary trick up their sleeves, too. Politico is reporting that:
"[Democrat] Party leaders have discussed the possibility of using the House Rules Committee to avoid an actual vote on the Senate's bill, according to leadership aides. They would do this by writing what's called a 'self-executing rule,' meaning the Senate bill would be attached to a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers -- without an actual vote on the Senate's legislation."
Swampland, the Time Magazine blog about politics, explained that such a move would mean that "the House would pass a rule saying if the Senate passes reconciliation, then they'll consider the Senate bill passed. If B is followed by C then A will be enacted."
One hundred and ten Congresses have come and gone, but only the 111th figured out how to pass legislation without voting for it. But just in case the aptly named "self-executing rule" doesn't work, rumor has it that other cutting-edge parliamentary fixes are in the works:
• Double Secret Passage. Rather than stammer and stomp to the press and fleeing members that the House passed a version of the health takeover already, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership would simply craft a "memorandum of understanding" by which they would declare that as far as they're concerned, the House version they passed last year is the same as the Senate version that passed shortly afterward, so there's no need to pass the Senate version directly. They could stipulate that this understanding would hold so long as reconciliation were used (not that it would matter by then).
• Whoah, What Is Kim Kardashian Doing Back There, and ... Is She Naked?! Hold the vote but find a way to distract a select few key "No" votes in order to secure passage.