Yesterday FOX News Special Report interviewed President Barack Obama about the process for passing the President’s controversial and unpopular health care proposal. Fox’s Bret Baier asked some pointed questions to see if the President supported or would even talk about the controversial “Slaughter Rule” being considered by the House to pass Obamacare. The President would not directly answer repeated questions about a potentially unconstitutional Deem and Pass rule, but he seemed to tacitly support the idea.
There is no precedent for legislation of this scale to be jammed through Congress by using a deeming resolution in concert with a reconciliation measure. Liberal leaders in the House argue that because Republicans used this potentially unconstitutional procedure in the past, they should be allowed to do so now on a much larger scale. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution states, “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States.” This procedure, on it’s face, seems to violate the letter of the constitution.
The President was asked by Bret Baier about the Slaughter Rule:
FOX News Reporter Bret Baier: So you support the Deem and Pass Rule?
President Barack Obama: What I am saying is whatever they end up voting on, and I hope it is going to be sometime this week, it is going to be a vote for or against my health care proposal. And that’s what matters. And that’s what people are going to judge this on.
The President seemed to abide by Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s (D-MD) advice to avoid talking about the process. Obama would not directly answer this question, but seemed to tacitly endorse the potentially unconstitutional strategy with his statement that he hoped for a vote “sometime this week.” The President does not seem troubled by the constitutional concerns of the Slaughter Rule strategy. The Wall Street Journal Op Ed agrees with the argument that this controversial procedure is unprecedented because never before has Congress passed a comprehensive reform bill using this tactic. Baier pressed the President:
Baier: Monday in Ohio, you called for courage in this health care debate. At the same time, Pelosi was saying this to reporters about the Deem and Pass rule, “I like it, this scenario, because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.” Is that the type of courage you are talking about?
Obama: Well, here is what’s taking place. We both know what is going on. You have got a Senate bill that was passed that had provisions that needed to be changed. Right. People were concerned about the fix that only fixed Nebraska and didn’t fix the rest of the States. Now a lot of the members of the House legitimately say, we want to vote on a package as the President has proposed that has those fixes embedded in them. Now that may mean that they have to sequence the votes, but the ultimate vote they are taking is whether they believe in the proposal that I have put forward.
Baier seemed to be trying to get the President to condemn Members of Congress for dodging a direct vote and showing no courage in structuring a vote that would allow members to claim that they never voted directly for the Senate passed version of Obamacare while that same legislation would be deemed passed by the House and sent to the President for his signature. Pelosi’s intent is to avoid a direct vote on the Senate bill seems to be a violation of the spirit if not the clear language of the Constitution. The President has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, as have members of Congress, they need to put more thought into upholding that oath during this contentious and divisive process.