Rep. Parker Griffith, M.D. (R-Ala.) switched parties recently to escape the far-left policies of the House Democratic leadership. The newly-minted Republican is set to lead efforts to force an up-or-down vote on a resolution requiring an up-or-down vote on the Senate health care bill.
This is hand-to-hand fisticuffs, parliamentary-style, as minority Republicans battle the 76-seat Democrat majority on procedure while Democrats battle the American people on substance.
If passed by the House, the resolution would prohibit Speaker Pelosi from implementing the “Slaughter Solution” scheme by which House Democrats seek to “deem” the Senate health care bill as passed without an actual vote on it in the House.
Republicans cannot force a vote on the actual resolution but they can force a vote on having a vote. Given the toxic political climate on Capitol Hill right now — and people nationwide paying more attention than ever to parliamentary process through the internet, cable news and talk radio — the vote on whether or not to vote on the resolution could have political consequences for Democrats.
Ensuring an up or down vote on certain health care legislation.
Resolved, That the Committee on Rules may not report a rule or order that provides for disposition of the Senate amendments to H.R. 3590, an Act entitled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, unless such rule or order provides for—
(1) at least one hour of debate, equally divided and controlled by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader, or their designees; and
(2) a requirement that the Speaker put the question on disposition of the Senate amendments and that the yeas and nays be considered as ordered thereon.
Whipping the Whip Counts
If there’s one thing that’s certain on Capitol Hill this week it’s uncertainty. Intensive whip count is taking place by leadership, media and constituents alike. The Drudge Report headlines are enough to confuse everyone.
BLOOMBERG: Pelosi Says Dems to Have Votes for Health Bill…
THE HILL: Hoyer Shoots Down Larson’s Vote Count, Clyburn’s Timeline…
THE HILL: Clyburn Says Health Vote Could Push Past Easter Holiday…
POLITICO: Larson Says Dems Have the Votes…
One of the most credible people to emerge in this whole debate is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), top Republican on the House Budget Committee. Ryan told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren last night, Democrats are still about 10 votes short.
“We still think they’re 10 down,” Ryan said. “There’s a common strategy being employed especially these days called the inevitability strategy. Make your team think you’re winning and if you’re going to vote against the team then it’s your fault for bringing the team down. Get the opposition on defense. Get the American people who are upset about this demoralized so that they don’t pick up the phone and call their Congressman. … The inevitability strategy is to try to win through bluffing. They are bluffing. They don’t have the votes. And they’ve got [until Sunday] to muscle this thing through until the President gets on a plane to Indonesia.”
Buying the Blue Dog Democrats?
Most interesting rumor from the Hill yesterday: Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) who announced his retirement from Congress has been promised the job of NASA administrator in exchange for his vote, and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), another retiring Democrat, has been promised an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to NATO in exchange for his vote.
It will be interesting to note any job announcements from this Tennessee duo post-House retirement. Both voted against passage of the House bill back in November.
Meanwhile, there’s trouble in CBO-ville. Congressional Quarterly reported late yesterday that preliminary cost estimates (“scoring”) of the changes the House wants the Senate to make using reconciliation have failed to meet the targets. From the report:
House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., was asked by reporters about speculation among lobbyists that preliminary CBO scores showed that the reconciliation bill does not save $2 billion over five years as required and that the costs of the total bill topped $1 trillion. “I don’t know that yet,” he replied. “We’re waiting to hear back from CBO. When I left the meeting last night, we were sending it back to CBO.”
Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores had come up short. “They were less than expected” in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.
Not only does the CBO score have to “score” as controlling costs (which it doesn’t), it must also meet the strict reconciliation restrictions articulated in this year’s budget. That’s a large order of smoke and mirrors.
One miss and reconciliation falls apart in the Senate going back to the House for yet another vote on the changes. The Senate bill will already have been passed and signed into law, a vote House Democrats will not be able to shed.
Of special note, per the House Rules Committee Staff Director Hugh Nathanial Halpern, of the 22 times reconciliation has been used since 1980, the Senate has amended the House reconciliation bill 21 times.
Tea Party Patriots take Capitol Hill
The congressional phone and fax infrastructure was groaning at the seams under extreme duress yesterday as Tea Party patriots travelled to the Hill to lobby their members in person and thousands more nationwide assaulted phone, fax and email service to make their voices heard: Kill the Bill.
Busy phone signals and jammed faxes lines nearly crashed the system. At one point members and staff were warned that faxes were not going through across the entirety of Capitol Hill — not just in targeted members’ offices. The entire system was completely overloaded.
The best line of the day at the Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill came from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). Gohmert carried the 2,700-page bill with him to the rally. HUMAN EVENTS intern Matt Hadro asked him why he was carrying the bill (and captured it on videotape here).
Gohmert responded, “This is the Senate bill (shows the bill) that you don’t find on the White House website. This is the Senate bill, and this is what they’re talking about deeming to be passed without passing it. I think the only way this’d be passed is if somebody eats it; then they’ll pass it. Otherwise it should not be passed.”
Schoolhouse Rock: “I’m Just a Bill Sitting on Capitol Hill”
For those who remember the terrific Schoolhouse Rock series that was so very effective in teaching kids about grammar and civics — and even more specifically for those who don’t remember it — House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) has posted a link on his Facebook page: How a Bill Becomes a Law — Schoolhouse Rock.
The remark accompanying the post? “A video we are trying to get Democrat leaders in Congress to watch.”