“I think we spent too much time on this process,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) after he emerged from a closed-door meeting of House Democrats. “Why don't we talk about what's in the bill?”
Democrats hope that by paring their message so that they highlight measures meant to restrain private insurance companies, close costly Medicare loopholes and expand coverage, they can counter GOP-led charges that they are trying to pass a bill using a legislative backdoor.
Though a final path to passage has yet to be drawn, Democrats are eyeing a procedure known as a “self-executing rule,” or “deem and pass.” Under the process, the House would adopt a rule for a vote on several add-on reform measures to the Senate's bill. If passed, the Senate's bill would be “deemed” passed as well.
Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the senior Republican on the Rules Committee, called the method a way for Democrats to avoid accountability on a vote that could prove a sticking point in many legislative districts this year.
“That, to me, is really not the proper route to take on this,” Dreier said. “Frankly, it's being done in an attempt to mask it.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who serves on the House Energy and
Commerce Committee, also accused Democrats of gaming the system.
“I think the public will recoil and be quite punitive if there's not a vote on the bill—if they just try to pass it on a parliamentary trick,” he said.
Democrats, however, countered that Republicans have used such a move many times in the past.
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