Earlier this afternoon, House Democrats voted down a Republican measure that would have prevented the use of the “deem and pass” strategy, or Slaughter rule, paving the way for the House to pass the Senate bill without directly voting on it. It was a 222 to 203 vote, which, by one way of looking at it, reaffirms the sense that Democrats will find some way to ram the health care bill through. But looking at the roll call vote, we see an odd collection among the 28 Democrats who voted with Republicans — some of those who voted against the use of the Slaughter rule were thought to be leaning “yes” on the underlying bill, while some of those who voted for the Slaughter rule were thought to be leaning “no.” Sean Trende rounds up the key names, and argues, “In the end, you probably can’t read too much into this. It’s a procedural vote, and some of the members will probably be eventual ‘nays’ who wanted to support the leadership on a tough procedural vote. Some of the members are probably voting ‘nay’ so that they can say, I tried to stop the Slaughter rule, and preferred and up-down vote, but I had no choice.”
With that said, it is particularly weird that some of those Democrats who voted for the Slaughter rule today have gone out of their way to specifically condemn the use of the procedure to pass the health care bill.
Earlier today, Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat who voted for the House bill in November announced he would vote against the latest version. Among the reasons he offered was his beef with the process: “It’s disingenuous,” he said, according to the Boston Herald. “It would really call into question the credibility of the House.” Yet he voted for the Slaughter rule anyway.
And then there’s Rep. Jason Altmire, who was a “no” the first time around, and has done so much public hemming and hawing over how he might end up voting, that if he loses his seat in November, he might want to consider a role in a local theater playing Hamlet. Earlier this week on Fox, Altmire attacked the “deem and pass” strategy. “I have a big issue with the way they are doing the process,” he said. “I think it’s wrong, and my constituents don’t like it.” And yet he went on to vote for that very strategy.
If Altmire and Lynch wilt so easily on a procedural vote, are opponents of the legislation kidding themselves by thinking there’s a chance they may actually stand up to President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and vote “no” on the final bill?
Video of Altmire condemning the Slaughter rule below.