On the March 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer falsely claimed that the House was considering a “self-executing rule that does not require a single vote” to pass health care reform. In fact, the self-executing rule requires a majority vote in order to pass and, as Ezra Klein has noted, “the effect” of passing it “is not any different than if Congress were to pass” the Senate's health care “bill first and pass the reconciliation fixes after.”
Hemmer falsely claimed the House self-executing rule “does not require a single vote”
Hemmer: The self-executing rule “does not require a single vote.” On the March 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Hemmer stated: “We start this morning with what could be the latest tactic to pass health care. Democrats considering pushing it through the House without actually voting on it. Now, how's that work? It's called the self-executing rule that does not require a single vote, and lawmakers on the Hill are apparently ready to use it -- but how and when?”
America's Newsroom chyron: “House May Try to Pass Health Care Bill Without Actual Vote.” During the following report on the self-executing rule, the following on-screen graphic aired:
In fact, the self-executing rule requires a majority vote in the House
Ezra Klein: "[V]ote on the reconciliation package functions as a vote on the Senate bill." In a March 15 blog post, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explained that the self-executing vote “functions as a vote on the Senate bill” because “the House will pass the fixes under a rule that says the House 'deems' the Senate bill passed after the House passes the fixes.” Klein wrote:
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.
CRS: Self-executing rule requires House's approval. A 2006 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report makes clear that passage of a rule by the House is required for the “self-executing” rule to be adopted. From CRS:
Definition of “Self-Executing” Rule. One of the newer types is called a “self-executing” rule; it embodies a “two-for-one” procedure. This means that when the House adopts a rule it also simultaneously agrees to dispose of a separate matter, which is specified in the rule itself. For instance, self-executing rules may stipulate that a discrete policy proposal is deemed to have passed the House and been incorporated in the bill to be taken up. The effect: neither in the House nor in the Committee of the Whole will lawmakers have an opportunity to amend or to vote separately on the “self-executed” provision. It was automatically agreed to when the House passed the rule. Rules of this sort contain customary, or “boilerplate,” language, such as: “The amendment printed in [section 2 of this resolution or in part 1 of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution] shall be considered as adopted in the House and in the Committee of the Whole.”
Don Wolfensberger, former chief of staff for the House Rules Committee under Republicans, stated in a 2006 Roll Call column: “Almost every major bill must obtain a special rule, or resolution, from the Rules Committee permitting immediate floor consideration. The resolution also specifies the amount of general debate time and what amendments will be allowed. A special rule also may contain other bells, whistles, gizmos and gadgets.One of these optional attachments is a self-executing provision, which decrees a specified amendment to have been adopted upon the rule's passage [emphasis added]. In other words, once the House adopts the special rule it effectively has adopted the amendment before the bill has even been called up for consideration [emphasis added].”
CongressDaily: House would still have to vote on corrections to the Senate bill. NationalJournal.com's CongressDaily reported (subscription required) that the rule would require that the “House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version” for passage. From CongressDaily:
House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.
Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.
Other media conservatives have attacked the rule as unprecedented, unconstitutional, and undemocratic
Limbaugh calls rule a “twisted scheme” to “bend the rules.” During the March 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) proposed using the self-executing rule to finalize health care reform legislation. Limbaugh said: “So, the scheme -- the twisted scheme by which the Democrat leaders plan to bend the rules to ram Obama's legislation through Congress now has a name: the Slaughter solution.”
Doocy: “They can pass the health care bill without actually voting on it.” During the March 11 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy stated that “the 'Slaughter solution' ” rule would “declare that the House deems the Senate version to have been passed by the House, and then House members would then have to vote on whether or not to accept the rule. So, by passing that rule, then they can pass the health care bill without actually voting on it. That is crazy.”
Hannity: Democrats' “latest solution: Don't vote at all.” During the March 11 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated (via the Nexis database), “The desperation among Democrats to pass this health care bill has reached new heights. Now they lacked the votes in the House to jam this bill through. So their latest solution: Don't vote at all. Now that's what House rules chairwoman Louise Slaughter is proposing. Now she wants to create a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed and once and for all by passing a minor bill that makes corrections to the Senate bill."
Fox Nation asks: “Should Rep. Slaughter be expelled from Congress?” On March 12, Fox Nation displayed the following graphic on its website:
Big Government: Slaughter's rule is “violating the Constitution.” A March 11 post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website stated, “The Slaughter Solution has one very large obstacle -- the Constitution Article I, Section 7,” and that “if this Congress continues down this path of violating the Constitution, the 'people' will have a viable case, class-action or otherwise, in the US courts because it is going to be extremely difficult for a judge to ignore that the 111th Democrat-Progressive led Congress violated Article I, Section 7 to the most obscene extent.”
Jim Hoft: “Democrats will use the unconstitutional 'Slaughter Rule.' ” In a March 14 post on his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft stated, “Democratic leader Rep. Chris Van Hollen admitted today on FOX News Sunday that democrats will use the unconstitutional 'Slaughter Rule' to ram their pro-abortion nationalized health care bill through Congress. Democrats announced this tactic last week. They will pass the bill without voting on it. They will take over one-sixth of the US economy without even voting on it."
Hot Air: House is using self-executing rule “for the first time in U.S. history.” A March 14 Hot Air blog post stated: “We're hours away from Slaughter revealing the strategy and Democrats have no other mechanism to pass a bill other than using an extra-Constitutional procedure. They don't have the votes to pass the Senate Bill, so they are -- for the first time in U.S. history -- about to rule that they actually passed a bill they never voted on."
Malkin calls Rep. Slaughter a “Constitution-butcher.” On March 13, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin displayed the following graphic on her website: