A few minutes ago, I read a couple posts at Ezra Klein’s blog at the Washington Post, both dated today. In the first one, he describes the House’s three options:
1) The House would vote on the two bills separately. Upon passage, the Senate bill would be ready for the president’s signature. The amendments, meanwhile, would go to the Senate for approval there. Call this the “Schoolhouse Rock” option.
2) The House would vote once. The vote would be on the amendments. But with that vote, the House would “deem” the Senate bill passed. (Yes, it can do that.) At that point, the main bill would be ready to go to the president for his signature, while the amendments would go to the Senate for consideration there.
3) The House would vote once, just like in option (2). But in this case, the House would deem the Senate bill passed only after the Senate had approved the amendments. Once the Senate approved the amendments, then–and only then–could the main bill go to the president for signature.
Oy. Options two and three are bad, bad, very bad ideas. Indeed, the fact that they’re under consideration suggests the House has let its anger at the Senate drive it temporarily insane.
Option two, of course, is the so-called “Slaughter Solution.” Later today, Klein blogged again to report that Pelosi is leaning toward the Slaughter Solution:
Pelosi said that she favors the “deem and pass” strategy. Here’s how that will work: Rather than passing the Senate bill and then passing the fixes, the House will pass the fixes under a rule that says the House “deems” the Senate bill passed after the House passes the fixes.
I agree with Klein that Pelosi would be insane to use this very bad strategy. In any event, it would probably be ruled unconstitutional. I have yet to hear of any precedent for the House taking a single vote to pass two pieces of legislation, only one of which is approved by the Senate, and the President nevertheless proceeding to sign one of those two bills into law. I very much doubt such a precedent exists.