House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Monday that she is leaning toward using a "deeming" mechanism to push health care reform across the finish line.
The Speaker, in a press briefing with progressive media in her Capitol office, said that three options were under consideration. One of them involved a vote on the Senate health care bill, followed by a vote on a reconciliation package. "Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill," she said. She wouldn't rule out that option, she said, because there is no official bill language yet, which she said she needs first before she makes a decision on process.
A second option would entail a vote on a rule followed by a vote on the reconciliation package. The Senate parliamentarian, Pelosi said, has told Democrats that such a strategy would not be acceptable, because the Senate bill must pass the House before the reconciliation amendments can.
So the third option is to write the rule so that the passage of the reconciliation package deems the Senate bill to also have passed, a parliamentary maneuver she said the Senate parliamentarian had said was acceptable.
It's a technical distinction and Democrats hope that it's deep enough in the weeds that average voters will focus instead on the substance of the legislation instead of the confusing process. Asked if she had firmly decided to pursue the third option, she answered, "I like the third one better."
Pelosi said she expects the Congressional Budget Office to return with a cost analysis of the final amendments shortly, at which point she'll call for a vote.
"Get the bill," she said, punching her fist into her hand. "Go for it."
Pelosi said she was confident that she would pass the bill. "I have no intention of not passing this bill," she said. "I have faith in my members."
She said that while she doesn't have 216 firm yes votes, she doesn't have firm no votes either. The uncommitted Democrats, she suspected, would move her way when legislative language was available. "It's not as if there are the no votes that we need to sway yes," she said.
Pelosi repeatedly stressed that the legislation would bring health coverage to 31 million Americans and that passage would be a major victory over factions in the Democratic Party who had been pushing for incremental reform. The incremental camp had a base of support both "here and there," she said, pointing behind her and out the window, west up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
Once the bill is passed, she said, she is ready to defend it against "the same forces that were aligned against Medicare."
"We've been a piñata for six months," she said. "We have to take it to the American people and say this is the choice that you have."
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