The Rules Committee meeting turned into mass confusion when Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said, "We're not going to 'deem' the bill passed. We're going to pass the Senate bill…I would be against the idea of 'deeming' something -- we either pass it or we don't."
To Republican ears, that sounded as if Waxman was speaking out in support of a direct vote on the Senate plan. "I hope we're making news here," said Republican Rep. Joe Barton. If so, Barton added, "Praise the Lord!" Other Democrats jumped in to say that no, there would not be a direct vote on the Senate bill.
Barton then asked whether there would be some period of time between House passage of the Senate bill and House passage of the HCR amendments. During that period of time, the president would sign the Senate HCR bill into law. For the House to amend the HCR law, Barton said, it has to be law, which means the president has to have signed it. "If he doesn't, it ain't a law," Barton said.
Democratic Rep. Sander Levin jumped in. "We're going to be amending the law," he claimed. Waxman added, "We change current law, and the current law will be the Senate bill once it's voted on in the House."
But it won't be law until the president signs it. Obviously, Democrats are performing such strange contortions because many of their members are scared of voting for a bill that will likely mean defeat for them in November. But their attempts to avoid responsibility have created some very basic problems.