Supposedly, the House will, tomorrow, vote on the bill using an arcane parliamentary rule that I had never heard of before--the (in)famous "deem and pass" rule--that, if I understand it correctly, would effectively enact the Senate bill approved last December and add amendments which the Senate can accept or reject and then declare "passed" whatever the Senate accepts. This approach to passing the bill has at least two problems, even if one assumes that it is constitutional or won't be invalidated by the Supreme Court:
- It will, apparently, enable House members to vote for the bill by voting for the "deem and pass" mechanism, but not vote for it in its entirety. In other words, House members can, at least in theory, avoid responsibility for voting for it, but still take credit if it passes. In principle, this is a bad thing, but in practice, at least in this case, I'm not too bothered. I can't imagine anyone who pays attention to the health insurance reform debate would believe that a vote for "deem and pass" isn't a vote for the bill.
- If I understand correctly, the "deem and pass" measure can theoretically enact into law a bill, the complete and full text of which has not been voted on by both houses. Supposedly, "deem and pass" is not a novel approach to legislation, just an unusual one reserved for relatively uncontroversial bills that both houses, and presumably both parties, wish to fast track. Still, in a bill of this magnitude, I am disturbed by the parliamentary gymnastics that the Democrats are indulging in.
This is one of those public policy issues where I not only understand the point of view of people who disagree with me; I also sympathize with them and believe they may very well be right. People of goodwill can and do disagree with this bill and with the type of comprehensive health care/insurance reform that liberal-leaning people like me support. I believe that most "conservatives" do not in their hearts like the fact that some people are without access to health care and do not like to see people thrown into poverty because they are diagnosed with a life threatening illness, but that they disagree with the statist approach that I and others favor.
In short, I hope the measure passes. If it does pass, I hope it survives the inevitable constitutional challenges and attempts to repeal it. I hope, also, that the bill actually works.