Dems ditch 'deem and pass,' moving toward an up-or-down vote

Top Democrats confirmed Saturday that the House would hold separate votes on the Senate healthcare bill and the reconciliation bill, making fixes to it.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the chief deputy whips, Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), all of whom said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) won't use the tactic of deem and pass for healthcare reform. 

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The move effectively kills the "deem and pass" strategy Democrats had been eyeing to make changes to the Senate bill through a rule on the bill, which at the same time would have deemed the original Senate healthcare bill to have passed the House.

The House appears set now to move toward an up-or-down vote on the Senate healthcare bill, as well as a separate, up-or-down vote on the series of changes to that bill. There will still be a vote on the rule, as there always is for a piece of legislation, though it will not package the two bills together.

Democrats moved toward separating the votes after several members, including Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), had said they could not support the procedural maneuver.

Cardoza confirmed the change in position by House leadership during a Rules Committee meeting Saturday afternoon.


"I want to thank the House leadership for indicating to a number of us that that's what's going to happen," he said.

Republicans had sought a separate vote on the Senate bill this past week, and tried to force one by offering a series of resolutions to do so, though these efforts were batted aside by House Democrats.

The Senate bill had been seen as a politically dangerous vote, as the Senate bill contains a number of "sweeteners" that had been included to invite Senate support. The reconciliation package would strike many of these deals.

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