Right-wing media falsely claim Pelosi broke pledge to post health care bill online 72 hours in advance

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Right-wing media are claiming Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke a pledge to post the "final" House health care bill online 72 hours before it comes to a vote, echoing a Weekly Standard blog post that claimed amendments allowed by the House Rules Committee the day prior to the vote will change the bill. However, Pelosi's office posted both the text of the bill and the "manager's amendment" -- which The Sunlight Foundation called an "extra final version of legislation" -- 72 hours in advance; those actions meet guidelines set by a House transparency measure that Pelosi told the Weekly Standard she "absolutely" supported.

Right-wing media falsely claim Pelosi broke 72 hours pledge

The Weekly Standard: "Pelosi's agreement to leave the 'final' bill online 'at the very end' of the process wasn't such a straightforward pledge." In a November 5 blog post, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack wrote that Pelosi broke her pledge to put the "final" health care bill online 72 hours before it comes to a vote because, even though she posted the text of the bill and the manager's amendment online, "House members are still negotiating important issues in the bill--whether it will provide taxpayer-funding for abortions, for example." McCormack wrote that this is because 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." From McCormack's Weekly Standard post:

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:

Apparently Pelosi's agreement to leave the "final" bill online "at the very end" of the process wasn't such a straightforward pledge.

TWS: Madam Speaker, do you support the measure to put the final House bill online for 72 hours before it's voted on at the very end?

PELOSI: Absolutely. Without question.

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.

The Drudge Report: "Pelosi Breaks Pledge to Put Final Health Care Bill Online for 72 Hours Before Vote..." Internet Gossip Matt Drudge linked to the Weekly Standard post on The Drudge Report with the headline, "Pelosi Breaks Pledge to Put Final Health Care Bill Online for 72 Hours Before Vote..." From Drudge:

Drudgelink

The Fox Nation: "Pelosi Breaks 72-HOUR Pledge.
" The Fox Nation linked to the Weekly Standard's blog post with the headline, "Pelosi Breaks 72-HOUR Pledge." From Fox Nation:

FoxNationlink

BigGovernment.com: "Of Course: Health Care Bill Won't be posted online 72 hours before vote."
Andrew Breitbart's website BigGovernment.com linked to The Weekly Standard's blog post with the headline, "Of Course: Health Care Bill Won't be posted online 72 hours before vote." From BigGovernment.com:

BigGovernmentlink

Stephen Moore: An "outrage" that the bill is not online. On Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore said: "It now appears, Greta, the bill as it will be voted on will not be posted on the Internet 72 hours before the vote, which means that most the members with will not have read it and the American people will not have at least 72 hours to read the bill to see what they're voting on. We're talking about one of the most important pieces of legislation in American mystery. It's an outrage." After Van Susteren asked Moore if he was "surprised," Moore said: "I'm shocked. You know what, Greta, I am surprised because of the brazenness of this and the arrogance of Speaker Pelosi to say we're not going to let the American people see the bill. I'm just--I am shocked by it." [On the Record, 11/05/09]

Gateway Pundit: "Pelosi Breaks Pledge- Will Not Post Bill Online for 72 Hours Before Voting to Nationalize Health Care." In a November 6 post, Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft wrote that "Democrats will not post their 2,000+ paged bill online for 72 hours before voting to nationalize the American health care system. The House Democrats will vote on Saturday to swallow one-sixth of the nation's economy." Hoft then posted video of Moore's comments on On the Record, in which Moore discussed what Hoft described as the "latest travesty."

But Pelosi followed transparency "measure" in posting the bill 72 hours in advance

Pelosi told the Weekly Standard she would support "the measure" to put the bill online 72 hours in advance. On September 24, McCormack wrote in a blog post that he "asked [Pelosi] if she supports a measure to put the final health-care bill online for 72 hours before the House votes on it." McCormack said that she replied, "Absolutely...Without question."

House measure McCormack asked Pelosi about requires full text and committee reports to be posted 72 hours in advance, but doesn't apply to amendments. McCormack was presumably referring to a measure Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced in June, H. Res. 554, which would have, according to the Congressional Research Service summary of the resolution, changed the "Rules of the House of Representatives to make it out of order in the House to consider a measure or matter until 72 hours ... after its text (and, if any, the text of all accompanying reports) have been made available to Members, Delegates, the Resident Commissioner (Members), and the general public." The summary also said H.RES. 554 "[r]equires the full text of the legislation and each committee report, without further amendment before floor consideration, to be posted continuously by means of the Internet" for 72 hours before the bill comes to a vote. According to a September 24 The Hill report, a "discharge petition" being circulated at the time would have forced Pelosi to schedule a vote on H. Res. 554, and McCormack "asked Pelosi about a discharge petition at her press conference, to which the speaker responded that she'd 'absolutely' support it."

The text of the bill, the manager's amendment and related committee reports were posted 72 hours in advance. Pelosi's office posted the text of the legislation, HR 3962, online on October 29, and it posted the manager's amendment to the bill online at on Tuesday, November 3. Since the bill is reportedly scheduled for a vote on Saturday, November 7, that means both will have been online at least 72 hours before the vote. The three House committees that voted on HR 3200, the House's original health care reform bill, all posted committee reports online. After the three bills were merged, it became HR 3962, which the House will reportedly consider on Saturday. The Energy & Commerce Committee linked to its report in a July 14 post, a July 15-17 Republican press release for the Education & Labor Committee linked to its report, and the Ways & Means Committee linked to its report in an October 15 post.

Rules committee amendments don't apply to 72 hour measure

Sunlight Foundation: H. Res. 554 does not cover amendments to bills, and manager's amendment is "an extra-final version of legislation." According to a post on The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates for government transparency, "the proposed 72 hour rule written into H. Res. 554 (the Read the Bill bill) does not cover amendments to bills," and the manager's amendment "amount[s] to an extra-final version of legislation." The post stated that Pelosi's decision to put the Manager's Amendment online 72 hours in advance was "commendable." From the post:

A Manager's Amendment is a partial substitute for the underlying legislation that often includes many last minute compromises to gain support from lawmakers on the fence. There is no required procedure for the public disclosure of Manager's Amendments, but most are posted with the list amendments to be considered on the Rules Committee web site, usually the day before consideration.

[...]

While the proposed 72 hour rule written into H. Res. 554 (the Read the Bill bill) does not cover amendments to bills, the decision to provide adequate time for the health care bill Manager's Amendment is highly commendable. These long amendments are farther reaching in scope than other amendments and amount to an extra-final version of legislation that is not recognized in most people's mental image of "How A Bill Becomes A Law." Acknowledging that the bill's language should be available at all stages for at least 72 hours before action is taken is an extremely important step in the right direction.

Sunlight Foundation: "A milestone" that the text was posted online. The Sunlight Foundation's John Wonderlich also wrote in a November 1 blog post of the text of the bill: "September 24th, Speaker Pelosi said that the healthcare bill would be online for 72 hours.... That 72 hours is now. The bill is online... We should recognize this as a milestone."

Hoyer: Adding an abortion compromise is not a violation of the pledge. According to a November 4 The Hill article, "Lawmakers said the abortion compromise may not be included in the final version of the bill to be released as soon as Wednesday, called the 'manager's amendment.' Instead, it may be included in the 'rule,' which is done the day before the vote. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday he did not consider that a violation of his pledge to have the bill language available for three days before a vote." According to the article, Hoyer said: "We said the manager's amendment we would give 72 hours for...Obviously, we have had 72 hours on the bill. So I don't think that is a violation."

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The Weekly Standard, The Drudge Report, Fox Nation, BigGovernment.com
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Stephen Moore
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