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Congressional Leaders Consider Special Procedure to Pass US Health Care


Leaders of the majority in the US Congress, who are from the Democratic Party, are planning to use a complicated two-step strategy to try to pass health care reform legislation.

First, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives want their chamber to approve a bill that passed the Senate in December. Some Democrats and virtually all of the opposition party Republicans in the House are thought to be opposed to the Senate version.

House Democratic leaders are working to secure the 216 votes they need to approve the Senate bill. But that approval would come using a parliamentary procedure that is commonly referred to as "deem and pass."

Under that procedure, the House would vote on rules for considering changes to the Senate bill, but would not vote on the bill itself. If the rules for changing the bill are approved, the bill itself would be considered passed.

Republicans call this "deem and pass" maneuver a dirty trick. Although it has been used in the past by both parties, it has never been used on legislation of this magnitude.

Once the bill is approved, both the House and Senate then would consider a package of changes to the legislation.

Senate Democrats recently lost their 60-seat supermajority in that chamber. In approving the package of changes to the legislation, they would use a procedure that requires only a simple majority of 51 votes, avoiding any Republican delaying tactics.

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