Emerging from a meeting with Democratic leaders in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D - CA) office today, House Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D -NY) discussed the constitutionality of the “self-executing rule” she has condoned. This particular procedure could be used to “deem” the Senate version of the health care legislation passed in the lower chamber without members voting on the actual health care bill. Named after the Chairwoman, this option has been called the “Slaughter solution.”
I asked Ms. Slaughter about what she thought of those questioning the constitutionality of using the procedure of the health care bill. She responded, “I think its ridiculous and people who are telling you its unconstitutional should know better, and you should be very outraged that people who don’t know better will say things like that,” said Rep. Slaughter. “This has been used since 1933. The Republicans used it about 34 times in the last term, and we’ve used it abundantly this last term. There’s nothing at all unconstitutional about this. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to do things.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R - OH), upon hearing this, said “No one in either party has taken a 2000 page bill and self-executed it into law…ever.”
Michael McConnell, a former federal judge, wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed that passing the health care legislation this way was indeed unconstitutional. The Democrats, while hinting they are willing to go the “Slaughter Solution” route, still have not made any definite decisions just yet. He notes that Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution requires that a bill must pass both houses of Congress to become a law.
Rep. Slaughter said, “We got a couple of options on that. The final [decision] will be made. No question that many times, with rules, we put two bills together. Why did they [those criticizing the “Slaughter solution”] tell you it was unconstitutional?—it is that they know when they talk they are not telling the truth.”
According to the New York Congresswoman, The Rules Committee will meet this week on either Thursday or Friday to discuss the health care legislation.