Paul Jacob

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on health care legislation. Sorta.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 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?)

Game Change FREE

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 Sportsman’s Paradise to secure Senator Mary Landrieu’s 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 what’s 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 what’s in it.”

It’s sort of like choosing what’s behind Monte Hall’s Door No. 3 on Let’s Make a Deal — and then waiting to discover whether you’ve just won three goats or the new washer-dryer set.

The best bet is: Two lame nannies and a dead billy.

House members understandably don’t want to vote on the Senate’s 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. That’s the only way Democrats can enact changes to it through what’s 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.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.