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In 2005 Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter thought “deem and pass” was unconstitutional

March 17, 2010

  As the House gets ready to possibly pass the healthcare reform bill without voting on it, it turns out that there is precedent for this type of maneuver– but just not on a bill of this magnitude.

  In 2005 the Republicans used “deem and pass”– the official name for this manuever– to pass a raising of the debt level through reconciliation. A group wrote a legal brief in order to challenge the constitutionality of the “deem and pass” strategy then being employed by Republicans. The brief read in part:

Some constitutional provisions are open to interpretation. One constitutional requirement that is not ambiguous, however, is the requirement that every bill pass both houses of Congress before it can be presented to the President and become law. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (“DRA”) was presented to the President in violation of that requirement: The Senate passed one version of a bill, the House another, and then the Senate’s version was presented to the President, who signed it. Under the Constitution, that bill has not become a law.

  Stating emphatically that a bill had to be passed by both houses of congress before it could become law under the constitution, this brief was signed by several Democrats. The interesting part about this is who some of the Democrats were who at the time agreed that “deem and pass” was unconstitutional. None other than Louise Slaughter– who is the architect of the current attempt at using “deem and pass” to pass healthcare reform at the time thought that it was unconstitutional. As did Nancy Pelosi, who now claims, “I like it” when asked about the Slaughter solution as a possibility to pass healthcare reform “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

  Funny how two of the people most responsible for the possibility of using “deem and pass” as a viable option now, thought that it was unconstitutional just five short years ago, isn’t it?

  The hypocrisy of these two individuals is on full display here, and frankly it is quite appalling, but telling. Will anybody in the media find this story newsworthy? I think we know the answer to that question.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. LD Jackson permalink
    March 17, 2010 11:35 pm

    Yes, the hypocrisy is astounding, from both sides of the aisle. Even if the Republicans have used this measure in the past, I still say it is sidestepping the Constitution at worst and doing an end run at best. I don’t like it at all.


    • March 18, 2010 5:57 am

      This sets up the use of this measure for even more legislation in the future if they get away with it, and that is scary. This is a massive piece of legislation and it is frightening to think they may be able to pass it without voting on it. If they can do this with a bill of this size, they can do it with anything they want.


  2. March 18, 2010 8:50 am

    It has been a bad precedent that was already set. It’s been used far more by Republicans, yet not of this magnitude. I agree with Mr. Jackson that the hypocrisy is astounding. How are you against something before you were for it? How was it unconstitutional then, but with a much larger, and potentially more devastating bill, can it now not only be acceptable practice, but constitutional.

    The bi-partisan mantra: Me first, party second, and oh yeah, the People.


  3. March 19, 2010 5:53 pm

    I guess Pelosi and Slaughter figure “deem and pass” trumps “slim and none” which is what the chances have been for the bill until threats and bribes. It’s always something.

    Obama still won’t return my calls. I tried yesterday and today. Huh. Guess he’s tied up plowing Michelle’s garden and twisting arms. He’s a busy man.




    • March 19, 2010 8:41 pm

      I love that line about “slim and none” it is so true! The Democrats could not pass this bill through traditional means so they have turned to the “whatever it takes” mode of governing.



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