Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on health care legislation. Sorta.
Speaker Nancy Pelosis goal is to pass the Senate bill and send it to the president for his signature. But the House will not vote on that Senate bill. No. Certainly not.
Instead, through a tricky little parliamentary maneuver called deem and pass, the House will simply deem the Senate legislation to have passed, without voting to pass it. This sophomoric dodge has reportedly been used before. (Why is there congressional precedent for every rotten legislative scam imaginable?)
But heavens, no self-respecting person would be caught voting for the Senate health care bill. It stinks to high heaven with odorous items like the Louisiana Purchase, the sweetheart deal funneling $300 million in federal Medicare funds to the Sportsmans Paradise to secure Senator Mary Landrieus vote, and the Cornhusker Kickback, which plied Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson with the inspiration necessary to convert to the reform side.
Of course, the Cecil B. length and DeMille scope of this mountain of sausage means no one has much of a handle on whats actually in it. Speaker Pelosi embraced the congressional game of hide-and-seek, arguing that we have to pass the bill so you can find out whats in it.
Its sort of like choosing whats behind Monte Halls Door No. 3 on Lets Make a Deal — and then waiting to discover whether youve just won three goats or the new washer-dryer set.
The best bet is: Two lame nannies and a dead billy.
House members understandably dont want to vote on the Senates demon seed for the very reasons recorded votes are desirable in the first place: Voters might hold legislators accountable.
But the Senate health care bill must be passed. Thats the only way Democrats can enact changes to it through whats termed reconciliation and avoid a likely Senate filibuster — meaning Senate passage would require only 51 votes as opposed to 60.
Hence the legislative three-card monte. Enjoy the skillful demonstration of American politics.