Pelosi Breaks Pledge to Put Final Health Care Bill Online for 72 Hours Before Vote
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the speaker will not allow the final language of the health care to be posted online for 72 hours before bringing the bill to a vote on the House floor, despite her September 24 statement that she was "absolutely" committed to doing so.
House members are still negotiating important issues in the bill--whether it will provide taxpayer-funding for abortions, for example. Pelosi is pushing for a Saturday House vote, and a number of big changes will be introduced, likely less than 24 hours before the vote takes place (if in fact it does). The Rules Committee hasn't yet released its resolution, or rule, that must be passed before the bill can move from committee to the floor. The rule will set the terms of debate and determine what amendments are in order.
It seems likely that the rule will allow very few, if any, up-or-down votes on amendments on the House floor. Rather, the rule will include a series of amendments that will all be adopted at once if the rule passes.
On September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that she was "absolutely" committed to putting the text of the final House bill online for 72 hours before the House votes:
But tonight, when asked if Speaker Pelosi will leave the bill online for 72 hours after we see what's in the rule, Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly replied in an email: "No; [the] pledge was to have manager’s amendment online for 72 hours, and we will do that."
Apparently Pelosi's agreement to leave the "final" bill online "at
the very end" of the process wasn't such a straightforward pledge.
Well, it sounds like she answered the Weekly Standard question in a misleading way. If I were the Standard, I'd run the quote I got from her exactly the same way and point to the discrepancy between what she told us and what's happening.
That said, I don't there's any question the process could be much better. What's the rush to vote on a version of a bill that won't take effect until 2013 by Saturday? A vote on Tuesday, or the following Tuesday, would cause the Republic to fall?
Which of the following are you saying:
1. Everything currently under negotiation will get included via one or more separate votes.
2. They will be folded into the bill by the rules committee. They will not get votes, but this is outside the scope of a 72 hour promise.
3. They will be folded into the bill by a self-executing rule, thereby not giving them votes. While functionally identical to (2) it would be procedurally different.
1 seems to be the only one consistent with the spirit of the 72 hour rule, no? And does anyone on this list believe that Dem leadership would give an up-or-down vote on that or that the people cutting a deal would allow it?
Or is there some other understanding you have?
You can't strategize this. The problem with the 72 hours rule is that if
there was enough support for it, we wouldn't need the rule in the first
place. And even with a rule, if the Members don't believe in it they'll
undo or circumvent it.
I've always found this topic fascinating and each time it comes up I
feel like I learn something about the power structure of Congress. And
maybe something about humanity too!
No one is against people reading bills, in principle. It's a trade-off.
Achieving your policy goal is more important than everyone reading the
fine print. Following the leadership is more important than objecting
that you haven't read the text. These are very powerful forces. Trying
to get a 72 hour rule passed is like trying to... uhm... pull a balloon
under water. Rather than pulling the balloon harder, it's probably
easier to just reduce the density of the water.... oh no, I mean....
drain the bathtub. Okay, that metaphor didn't work. I'll think of
another one for the next time this comes up.