Deem and Pass Deemed Unnecessary

One of Washington’s most intriguing new celebrities, the congressional procedure known as “deem and pass,” is now officially off DC’s buzz list. DAP has been dropped by the House Dems as a means of getting health care reform through Congress. A setback for the Democrats? Probably not. House Democratic leaders turned to DAP, a rule which allows the House to declare a bill passed without a direct vote, as a way of accepting the Senate’s version of health care reform, which contains provisions disliked by many House Democrats—without having to cast a distinct vote on the Senate bill. In other words, DAP was a dollop of grease.

But it was not uncontroversial. Republicans screamed that the Ds were using “deem and pass” as a trick, and some Democrats also muttered about this perhaps too-crafty usage of the rule. So on Saturday afternoon, the House Democratic leadership threw DAP under the bus and declared that on Sunday the House would vote first for the reconciliation bill that tweaks the Senate measure per House Democrats’ desire and then vote on the Senate bill. Maybe we can call this “ammend and accept.” In any event, this announcment was a signal that the House Democrats assume they have the 216 votes they need to end and win the health care debate in the House. “Clearly, we believe we have the votes,” said House majority whip Steny Hoyer, as he headed to a meeting between President Obama and the House Democrats.

Farewell, “deem and pass.” We hardly knew ye.