Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have never before been asked to pass legislation by "deeming" it approved under a House rule instead of following the process required by the U.S. Constitution in which they actually vote on the proposal itself, according to a senior aide to House Republicans.
The procedure - dubbed by critics as the "Slaughter Solution" - is the brain-child of House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY, who, at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, is trying to fashion a rule that would allow the House to move toward passage of a health care reform bill without a recorded vote on the Senate version.
Like the Senate, which adopted its health care reform measure on Christmas Eve, the House passed its version last year. But there are major differences between the two measures, especially concerning federal funding of abortions. The Senate version includes billions of dollars to fund new health care clinics that would offer abortion services. The House bill was passed only after Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment barring federal funding for the procedure was included.
Slaughter's approach would bring to the House floor a reconcilliation bill to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of health care reform with the rule deeming the House to have approved the Senate version. The GOP aide, who requested anonymity, said a search of the House archives failed to reveal any previous use of the Slaughter Solution.
Earlier today, Slaughter told The Examiner's Susan Ferrichio that a ruling from the Senate Parlimentarian would have no bearing on what the House does. The Parliamentarian said the Senate could not consider the reconcilliation bill until the Senate health care reform bill was signed into law by President Obama.
"We knew that. That's not news to me. We always believed we had to have a signed bill before we reconcile." Slaughter told Ferrichio. Slaughter wouldn't say definitively if House leaders would employ her rule, and she said the Senate Parliamentarian "cannot rule on what we have to do over here."
Late this afternoon, the GOP aide said "you can report it as fact, they are moving down that road."