Understanding the Self Executing Rule

My member of Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has sent out a video explaining why she will vote against the health care legislation.  
She calls it radical.  To be radical it would have to dig down to the root of the problems with our health care system.  At its best, this bill is mere pruning and offers only a promise of more comprehensive reform in the future. 
She claims it will raise premiums, which could be true if by that one assumes that more people will opt for greater coverage than they now have because of overall lower costs.  We are standing the midst of a tidal wave of premium increases as it is, and have been for years, so I’m not sure what point she is trying to make.
She says it will increase taxes.  On whom, considering that it contains a number of tax breaks and cuts, especially for small businesses?  In the long run it will uncap the limit on the earnings tax you and I pay for Medicare so that very high income people will also pay their full share.  It will put a modest tax on currently tax free health care plans that provide for breadth and depth of coverage unknown to most of us – what is essentially tax free socialized medicine without limitation available only to the corporate elite.
She says it will cut Medicare.  It will cut Medicare costs, not benefits, by aiming at known waste and fraud. By the way, the waste and fraud appear to be mostly on the private side of the ledger.  The government’s share of Meidcare overhead is said to be around 2 or 3% as opposed to the 10 to 15% or more on the private side, and that’s for well run plans.
She says it will increase spending, which is true, and yet the CBO also says it will set into motion billions in deficit reduction rather than add to it. 
Most of all she claims that the Democrats have “invented” the “Slaughter Amendment” process to permit passage of the bill without even a vote.  That is just plain wrong, and she knows it.  She’s just hoping her constituents don’t.  She is referring to a self executing House rule that has been around for twenty-five or thirty years.  When used, the entire House votes on a special rule, up or down, that deems the bill enclosed within it (the Senate health bill) to have been passed, which, in this case will allow the House to get on with amending the newly passed legislation in total and sending it back to the Senate for agreement under reconciliation.  Whatever else happens, the Senate bill would become law, but the intention is to improve it through supplementary legislation originating in the House and going to the Senate for an up or down vote via reconciliation.  Everyone gets to vote.
What doesn’t happen under the self executing rule, as I understand it, is that the bill (the Senate bill in this case) cannot be referred back to committee or amended by the entire House acting as the committee of the whole.  
The self executing rule has been around for a long time.  Under Republican Speaker Gingrich it was used 90 times.  Under Republican Speaker Hastert it was used 112 times.  So much for unprecedented legislative tactics. 
Ms. McMorris Rodgers wants to stop and start over again, which is Republican for doing nothing at all ever.  She, along with Mr. Boehner, claims to have a simple plan based entirely in the private market that will work just fine.  Neither one has ever said what that plan is. 

8 thoughts on “Understanding the Self Executing Rule”

  1. CP:Thanks for a good explanation on how the self-executing (or in this case, the \”Democratic self-execution rule\”) works.Debating health care aside, the one thing that just irritates me is the ethic of \”Well, the other side has done it so it is OK for our side to do it\”). There is no doubt that the Republicans are hypocritical on this, but I cannot even begin to fathom how that therefore makes it right for the Dems to do it now; and it really baffles me how Christians can argue in favor of this.James Madison would be appalled that such a rule would have ever been instituted in the first place.I find this whole thing of the political ends justifies the means to simply reveal the sad state of Christian co-optedness by the government.

  2. This is one of the most educational and useful blog entries you have researched and written! I have forwarded it to my son, daughter, stepdaughter, and, above all, my right-wing Republican half-brother! It casts light rather than heat on a very often misunderstood matter! Dr B

  3. Alan,It is a rather arcane legislative move, but it does not deprive persons of a vote. I would prefer that it not be used, but I don't see it as unethical, rather I see it as a last resort to interminable delays for no other reason than to delay. As far as secular politics is concerned, I would prefer something more like the Westminster model, but we have what we have. On a more personal note, you are the best of the kind of conservative I used to be, and that's a good thing. It's like having good brakes on Prius.CP

  4. CP:By the way, just one more comment from this Prius– The Dems are just as hypocritical as the Repubs on this one. There are videos, as you may know, on YouTube showing Steny Hoyer and Barack Obama condemning the Repubs usage of Demon Pass– oops, Deem and Pass.FYI.

  5. Well, by the end of today's vote, this \”self-executing rule\” debate will all be moot. The House leadership has decided not to use it. Dr B

  6. Anon,You are right, and I think it is good they have decided otherwise. But I think come November that after the election, the Repubs might control Congress again. From where I stand divided government is a good thing. We cannot allow either party so much power.

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