Rep. Hoyer: House Does Not Need to Hold Direct Vote on Health Care Bill to Make It Law

By Matt Cover | March 16, 2010 | 3:00 PM EDT

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., at an Oct. 29, 2009 news conference on Capitol. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) confirmed that the House of Representatives will use the controversial “Slaughter Solution” – named for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) who crafted it -- to enact the Senate version of health care reform legislation.
Speaking to reporters at his weekly Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday, Hoyer said the Senate would use a so-called self-enacting rule to pass the Senate bill, which would allow them to avoid actually voting on the bill itself.
“We’re going to vote on a bill, on a rule, which would provide for the result that, if a majority are for it, that will adopt a bill, the Senate bill, which has had extensive debate, extensive exposure,” Hoyer said.
“Does anybody in this room doubt that you have to vote on that?” he said. “We will vote on it, in one form or another.”
The procedural sleight of hand Hoyer was referring to has become know as the Slaughter Solution and would involve the House Rules Committee drafting a rule that would merely deem the Senate health bill passed if Congress approved a budget reconciliation measure.
Because the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.),  drafts the terms under which bills are brought to the floor and debated, the Slaughter Solution would mean that a vote for the budget reconciliation bill would translate into a vote to pass (or not) the budget and health care bills simultaneously.
However, the vote would be officially recorded as a vote on the budget bill only, thereby allowing House Democrats to say they never technically voted for the unpopular Senate health care bill.  If the budget reconciliation bill passes with the Slaughter Solution, the Senate health care bill could then be sent to the White House for President Obama to sign it into law.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Rules, which threw out more than 200 amendments proposed for HR 3962, including 11 that required Congress and other government officials to sign on to the same government-run health plan they want for the American people. (AP Photo)

When asked whether such a move on so weighty a bill would galvanize public opinion further against Democrats, Hoyer said that the public would merely ask, “So what?”
“So what, says the American public?” Hoyer said. “What they’re interested in (is) what result, what did you do for me and my family to make my life more secure and better (and) of greater quality. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”