The Slaughter Solution, And Other Tactics For Passing Health Reform


A real American hero?

If you watch cable news this weekend (which, if you a normal and well-adjusted person, you probably won't), you'll likely hear a lot of discussion about the so-called Slaughter Solution, a procedural manuever that House Democrats are considering in hopes of making it easier to pass health care reform. NRO's Daniel Foster and Slate's John Dickerson have posted detailed explanations, but the gist is this: Rather than vote up or down on the Senate bill (which many House Democrats don't like), the House would instead vote to pass a reconciliation bill that amends the Senate bill. Attached to the reconciliation bill would be a rule that says that once it's passed, the original Senate bill is automatically considered passed too.

The result is that House Democrats get to vote for the reconciliation fixes but can say that, technically, they never voted to pass the bad Senate bill.

Will they actually go through with it? At The Daily Caller, Jon Ward suggests that chances are strong that they will. I don't entirely doubt that House Democrats are considering the move, but I'm skeptical that it will provide much political benefit, or that it will actually address the major barriers to reform.

For one thing, the legitimacy of the procedure—and thus the legislation it produces—will almost certainly be called into question; Republicans will no doubt portray this as the Ultimate Procedural Gimmick. That's not likely to play well with a public already wary of various side deals and gimmicks.

It's also tough to see what advantages Democrats actually stand to gain from going this route. I understand that they want to avoid being seen as voting for health reform. (Indeed, The Hill is reporting that many Democrats running in November are skittish about talking about this bill at all) But they'll still have to vote for the reconciliation bill. Given that doing so will trigger the passage of the original Senate bill, why wouldn't any opponent still run ads noting a candidate's support for ObamaCare? "Technically, I didn't vote for it, I only voted for an amending bill that triggered it" isn't a very convincing rebutal.

Nor does it do much to solve the Senate trust problem. Once the House passes the Senate bill/reconciliation bill combo, the Senate will still have to decide whether it will also pass the reconciliation bill. As far as I can tell, even if the House employed the Slaughter Solution, it would remain possible for the Senate to decline to pass the amendments in the reconciliation bill.

On the other hand, Democrats did make one move today that's likely to give them a better shot at passage: bunding the health care reconciliation bill with the student loan bill—which, as Philip Klein explains, has enough popular support that it might increase the chances for health care to pass:

The student loan bill comfortably passed the House with 253 votes, including those from 34 Democrats who voted against the health care bill. Thus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be thinking that if she can induce some of those Democrats into supporting a health care bill by attaching it to something they like, it may be able to make up for whatever defections she'll have within her caucus due to abortion or other concerns. 

So, as I understand it, if this strategy works, here's what will happen. First, the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that 1) includes the student loan bill 2) amends the Senate bill and 3) triggers the passage of the Senate bill in the House. After that happens, the Senate will have the option to vote on the reconciliation bill, thus passing both the student loan legislation and the changes to the health bill.

And what about the language governing federal funding for abortion? So far, it's been the biggest potential hurdle, but perhaps Democratic leadership has found a way forward. As of this afternoon, it looks like Stupak's not going to flip. But according to an interview Stupak gave with NRO, several (at least) of the dozen pro-lifers in his faction likely will.

What are Democratic leaders saying? "If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That's one of the arguments I've been hearing," Stupak says. "Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America?"

…"Throughout this debate, even when the House leaders have acknowledged us, it's always been in a backhanded way," he laments. "I'm telling the other [pro-life Democrats] to hold firm, and we'll meet next week, but I'm disappointed in my colleagues who said they'd be with us and now they're not. It's almost like some right-to-life members don't want to be bothered. They just want this over."

In this way, at least, health care's long slog may have actually worked to Democrats' advantage; at a certain point in a drawn-out debate like this, it becomes tougher to bristle in opposition and easier to look for ways to give in. I don't think this is a done deal by any means—the immigration issue hasn't been resolved yet, and there's still no firm indication that the necessary votes really do exist—but after Pelosi's no good, very bad day yesterday, passage is certainly looking somewhat more likely.

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  1. As I said in a thread below, if this actually works, I don’t see how you couldn’t just pass a rule saying any bill that the Speaker supports if it gets at least 30% yea votes.

    I remember my freshman year in college when I took a course in American Government. Many times we would come up with outlandish scenarios where either the President and the entire cabinet and the Speaker all die at the same time, or some horribly corrupt Congressperson finds a way around his or her house’s rules to force a law into being or some such. And the professor would chuckle and remind us that ultimately, the people have the ability via the ballot box to enforce the house rules, and no Congressperson can find a way around that.

    Well, in November we’ll see if he was right.

    1. …any bill that the Speaker supports is deemed “passed” if…

    2. How about a rule giving the President to deam any bill passed. Kind of like the War Powers Act does for war ….

  2. So, as I understand it…

    I don’t think anyone really understands any of this, least of all the public who, having been subjected to the sausage-making for over a year, is disgusted with the incomprehensible opacity of the bill(s). They fear (rightly) that which they do not and cannot understand.

  3. Wouldn’t put it past them to try it – Pelosi is the one who walked out on the stage at the Democratic National Convention and basically said “let’s just consider Obama the candidate, no need to vote on it” – and the morons went along with that.

    Also, we’ve already seen the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, and other blatant bribes attached to this – dangling student loan forgiveness is more of the same, attempting to bribe anyone with an outstanding balance. . .

    At least the Bolsheviks were fairly up front about their antics, by comparison. Slimier than the Bolsheviks, that’s got to count for something, right? Anybody? Bueller?

    1. He’s out sick, cause he ain’t got no healthcare….

  4. They fear (rightly) that which they do not and cannot understand.

    I wonder if they understand slavery – because that’s pretty much what we’re looking at. Your ass and your life owned by everyone (or their representatives) except you.

    1. Well, that part they get. Maybe.

  5. I don’t think the Slaughter solution works, procedurally, Anyway.

    In order for the House to pass a Senate-originated reconciliation bill, the Senate has to pass it first. But the Senate can’t pass a reconcilliation bill until AFTER the House passes the Senates original bill.

    It makes no sense for the house to vote on reconcilliation amendments to a bill they havn’t voted on, before the senate (which did vote on the bill), passes those amendments.

    It’s probably not even constitutional for them to do so.

  6. First, the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that 1) includes the student loan bill 2) amends the Senate bill and 3) triggers the passage of the Senate bill in the House.

    Again how do you pass amendments to a senate bill that (a) the senate has not passed. And (b) amend a bill that you have not passed.

    If the Senate parliamentarian says that the House has to pass the Senate bill before they can be reconciled, how does THIS work?

    1. The Senate already passed the Senate bill.

      Another concern I haven’t heard addressed is how this bill — which definitely concerns a raising of revenue — can originate in the Senate.

      1. Yeah, the Senate passed it. But the House has not. How can the House vote on amendments to the senate bill if they havn’t passed the original bill, and it hasn’t been signed by the President? It would make more sense if they just crafted a NEW bill that was the whole bill with the revisions added, and passed that. And if they can’t get the votes for *that* what makes them thing they can get the votes on just the revisions and then presume the senate bill to have passed? it makes no sense.

        1. From what I heard, all that matters is the order they are signed into law. So as long as Obama doesn’t shuffle them on his desk (a mistake I frankly wouldn’t put past him), that’s not going to be a problem.

          1. How the heck do you sign into law an amendment to a law you haven’t signed yet?

      2. Technically, the Senate bill was substituted for the House version, so it originated in the House, but the substituted bill has (or at least has always previously had) to be approved by the lower chamber. Since it is substituted, not amended, it can’t go directly to committee. As I understand it.

        1. But you could be wrong. Or right. Or half-right. Only Nancy Pelosi knows, and she’s not telling, because she’s insane.

  7. Can a Reason contributor other than Suderman chime in with an opinion. I know his name is one 180-degree letter turn from being the Man of Steel, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting jerked around on this. Earlier Suderman was sure it couldn’t pass, now he’s telling me it can. I JUST CAN’T TAKE THE ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS!

    1. “Lisa, you’re tearing me apart!”

  8. I deem my 2010 income taxes paid in full.

    I deem thee! I deem thee! I deem thee!

    1. Yes, I deem my 2010 income refund of $1 million dollars be paid directly to me immediately.

      …If I word it that way, it must be?

  9. They have gone full retard on this. Are they actually dumb enough to think anyone will believe “I voted for the rule not the bill”?

    1. It doesn’t matter what the people believe. The Dems can get away with it because look at who their competition is.

  10. What’s almost literally insane is that they would increase the power of the majority like this when even their analysts are predicting a bloody November.

    I’m regularly amazed at how the parties seem to assume the power grab they’re performing today won’t be used against them in the future. It’s so incredibly stupid. And not adhering to traditional limits on power is a great way to stay on the path to tyranny.

    1. not adhering to traditional limits on power is a great way to stay on the path to tyranny.

      Now you get it.

    2. It is insane if their strategy is for short term gain – that is retaining a majority in the next election cycle.

      That however is not their goal. Their strategy is for long term gain – create a gigantic new entitlement. Once an entitlement is in place, it is near impossible to roll back. They tried to ensure this by slipping provisions into the various bills that would require a super-majority vote in order to roll them back.

      1. I know that’s tended to be true in the past, but I think the discomfort with this advance towards socialism is pretty high.

      2. I was just thinking about this. Assuming the house switched control, which I think it will if they pass this, the new GOP house can just attach to EVERY bill a clause overturning the health care bill.

        Sure the senate may remove it, but then you demand it be readded in committee or you kill the bill.

        Sure, the prez may veto it, but you override or kill the bill.

        Will the senate and prez let ZERO laws pass for two years?

        Especially with the people opposing the health care law?

        1. Of course, that means the GOP must put principle ahead of politics. I think that would play tremendously well, but that’s been true in the past, too. They don’t seem willing to even make the commitments they did in 1994.

        2. The President of the Senate (VP Joe Biden) is the final arbiter over Senate rules. A stunt like this wouldn’t fly because he’d just declare that this sort of attachment was against the rules.

          1. There’s a lot that can be done when you control a house. If you’re willing to hang tough.

          2. That would be a gross overstepping of the role of the VP as President of the Senate. You’re talking about him actually altering the text of a bill on a whim.

            I keep getting surprised by how much abuse of power the Democrats are willing to indulge in, and how much the media is willing to let them get away with, but that’s a bit far outside the box — he’d essentially be usurping the entire legislative branch.

  11. (((((((((don’t be silent ))))))
    CONTACT your congressman – contact both sides of the isle!!!!

    simply go to this site: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
    ? Select your state, and input your Zip (+4)
    ? Click on your Reps. name (that pops up)
    This will take you directly to their website.
    ? Every Rep’s site has phone numbers if you want to call.
    ? Every Rep’s site has a tab or link that says “Contact” or “Contact Us”

    Do your part – take 5 mintues to Write and remind your house representatives that they took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States?

    Encourage them to not be of poor character, but to honestly represent the people and defend the constitution. This should be done despite the issue! If congress is not going to support and defend the Constitution, we the people, will!

    Don’t let your silence be viewed as acceptance of their misuse of absolute power (a tyrannical act)

    — — —
    The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. (Thomas Jefferson)

    (((encourage your friends to do the same – an not be silent this weekend)))

    1. I second. I have been calling. My Congressman’s secretary who answers the phone knows my voice I call so often. But I keep calling. We all must. We must keep calling and calling at least until January of 2010. Do not be afraid to sound angry or raise your voice. You have every right to be angry. In fact, if your Rep or Senator voted for any version of Obamacare you SHOULD be angry – and they need to know you are. If you are registered to vote TELL THEM. I always begin my call with the words “I am a registered voter …” and then I go into my comment.

      1. You mean your senator hasn’t disconnected her phones yet. Mary Landreau turned her’s off after the Louisiana Purchase.

        1. Not yet, he has not yet done so. Any day now though I expect. I live in Florida – Bill Nelson’s state with the Gator-Aid deal.

        2. By the way, I noticed I made the mistake of typing “at least until January of 2010”. OF course I meant “at least until January of 2011”.

        3. That’s actually unconstitutional. The right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances and all.

          1. “That’s actually unconstitutional. The right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances and all.”

            Good point! I wonder if a judge could force her to reconnect her phones?

            1. That would require a judge who actually applies the Bill of Rights in a way unpopular with legislators. Good luck.

          2. I dont see how turning off the phones is unconstitutional. You can still write a letter or show up in person. Every congressman before Alexander Graham Bell turned off his phone.

            1. If the telephones were removed for budget reasons that would be fine. The reason for the loss of this particular means of communication is quite obvious however. It is a deliberate act for the purpose of avoiding a petition for a redress of grievances. That is what makes it unconstitutional.

            2. Well, I was going off of the fact that Congress members have tried to stop Hustler issues from being delivered to their offices (Larry Flynt gives them all free subscriptions as a prank), but the right to petition has been ruled to prohibit stopping mail to a Congressional office.

              I think this would apply to phones too, since they are a standard form of communication nowadays, just as the freedom of speech and freedom of the press apply to modes of communication that didn’t exist in 1789. Since the vast majority of businesses and people now communicate via telephone, the same rule should apply.

  12. It’s almost time to start throwing bricks through their windows.

    1. We have tried to let them know we don’t want Obamacare in every LEGAL way. We have phoned, sent letters, protested, visited congressional offices, visited Town Hall meatings, elected a new senator who ran against the bill, some people have even mailed copies of Atlas Shrugged. What more can we do that is LEGAL? Maybe it is time to go outside the bounds of the law. After all, they are going outside the bounds of the Constitution. If they violate their own oaths of office why the fuck do they expect US to follow the fucking law? If I sound pissed it is because I am.

      1. You don’t get to decide what the constitution says, thank god. Maybe you guys just need to stop reading and listening to rightwing propaganda? It would be good for your blood pressure, at least.

        1. To get my blood pressure down, I just think of what a great precedent this Slaughter rule is going to be when the GOP returns to the majority, and they bend the Dems over and fuck them with it. And I will laugh when you and the rest of the progs squeal like pigs when it happens.

          1. Squeal Tony! SQUEAL!

        2. “You don’t get to decide what the constitution says, thank god.”

          No, but the people who actually wrote it do – and they did in the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist papers. And the federal government does not have the power to pass Obamacare. Ever read the 10th Amendment? It is part of the Bill of Rights. The Left in the Country used to care about the Bill of Rights. Now it hates the Bill of RIghts because it gets in the way of its power grabs.

          “Maybe you guys just need to stop reading and listening to rightwing propaganda?”

          You mean the rightwing propaganda that supports drug decriminalization, gay rights, legalizing prostitution and is usually anti-war? Do you mean that rightwing propaganda?

        3. Ultimately, the people as a whole bear the responsibility for making sure the government stays within the bounds of the Constitution. Eternal vigilance being the price of freedom and all.

  13. SLaughter is the best medicine

  14. Caption contest – look on any man’s face waking up in bed next to Nancy Pelosi.

  15. Actually, Nancy Pelosi does not look bad for someone who will turn 70 in two weeks.

    1. Her face can’t be more than 6 years old

    2. John, you are a gentleman.

    3. “Actually, Nancy Pelosi does not look bad for someone who will turn 70 in two weeks.”

      Said the blind man to his deaf congressman.

  16. Quit calling and writing your congresspeople and start faxing them your complaints. It’s more tangible, more timely, and more costly for them.

    1. Fax attacks are soooo 1998, as they’re now thwarted by thermal paper fax machines and/or software for storing faxes on a hard drive.

      1. I prefer to use the carve it in stone method.:-)

        1. A heavy stone through a window.

  17. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  18. I think that the bill they made public was difficult to understand. Later they decided to publish a website. I though overall this was much easier to understand and illustrated the bill nicely. How to convert Youtube to MP3

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