Key Dem: Using 'deem and pass' health plan is 'wrong'

A plan that would allow House Democrats to bypass a direct vote on the Senate's healthcare bill is causing "discomfort," a key centrist Democrat said Tuesday.

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), a member of the Blue Dog and New Democrat Coalitions, said that the plan to pass the plan using the so-called "deem and pass" procedure is "wrong" and unpopular among his constituents.

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There's a lot of discomfort with the reconciliation process, the self-implementing rule, where you wouldn't have a formal vote on maybe the most important policy of the past 40 years," he said on Fox Business Network. "I have a big issue with the way they're doing the process. I think it's wrong and my constituents don't like it."

Altmire, a no vote on the House's healthcare bill in November who is now undecided, is seen by many as critical to passage.

Under the plan, the House would craft a rule that would allow the House to vote on the reconciliation package of fixes with a clause included that "deems" the Senate healthcare bill passed the House. 

This would allow Democratic leaders to bypass a tough vote on the Senate's healthcare bill as a standalone measure. But Altmire's comments show that it could still be met by opposition from some Democrats, though it's not clear if it would be enough to derail the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) have both said that the plan is under consideration but that they have not made a final decision on whether or not to use it.

The Rules Committee issued a memo Tuesday morning defending the plan. Republicans have largely objected to the plan, saying its use on large social legislation such as healthcare is unprecedented and are simply trying to avoid a difficult vote.