Slide "health care" in through the back door: that's exactly what San-Fran-Nan plans to do.
If she gets her way, she's gonna jam this thing right up our backside, and she's not going to be nice about it.
From The Washington Post:
"My biggest fight has been between those who wanted to do something incremental and those who wanted to do something comprehensive," Nancy Pelosi said in a meeting with reporters this morning. "We won that fight, and once we kick through this door, there'll be more legislation to follow."
Easier said than done, as anyone who's been watching this process knows. Democrats have been on the verge of passing health-care reform for many months now, but for all the doors they've kicked in, they've found more doors waiting on the other side. But today, Pelosi made her clearest statements yet on how she means to finish this bill. The issue is how to sequence the Senate health bill, which the House doesn't like, with the package of fixes (including, Pelosi said, the elimination of the Nebraska and Florida deals, the delay of the excise tax, more affordability and oversight provisions and more funding of community health centers), which the House does like. There are a number of procedural options on the table, but today, Pelosi said that she favors the “deem and pass” strategy.
Here's how that will work: Rather than passing the Senate bill and then passing the fixes, the House will pass the fixes under a rule that says the House "deems" the Senate bill passed after the House passes the fixes.
The virtue of this, for Pelosi's members, is that they don't actually vote on the Senate bill. They only vote on the reconciliation package. But their vote on the reconciliation package functions as a vote on the Senate bill. The difference is semantic, but the bottom line is this: When the House votes on the reconciliation fixes, the Senate bill is passed, even if the Senate hasn't voted on the reconciliation fixes, and even though the House never specifically voted on the Senate bill.
It's a circuitous strategy born of necessity. Pelosi doesn't have votes for the Senate bill without the reconciliation package. But the Senate parliamentarian said that the Senate bill must be signed into law before the reconciliation package can be signed into law. That removed Pelosi's favored option of passing the reconciliation fixes before passing the Senate bill. So now the House will vote on reconciliation explicitly and the Senate bill implicitly, which is politically easier, even though the effect is not any different than if Congress were to pass the Senate bill first and pass the reconciliation fixes after. This is all about plausible deniability for House members who don't want to vote for the Senate bill, although I doubt many voters will find the denials plausible.
Read the rest of the article here, and find more discussion at Memeorandum.