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Protecting the PATRIOT Act

February 10, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House Rules Committee met for about 10 minutes yesterday afternoon to decide how to handle the PATRIOT Act extension bill that was defeated earlier this week when the Republicans tried to bring it to the floor under an expedited process with only 40 minutes of debate and no amendments. Their decision, which does not come as too much of a surprise, is to bring the bill back to the floor under a closed rule that will still not allow any amendments and will still keep the debate very brief. The rule, however, will allow for the bill to pass by a simple majority, so unless dozens more members turn against the extension at the last minute, it will pass easily.

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Changing the Senate's Tax Bill

December 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate is now in session and they are about to start voting on Obama's plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income levels in exchange for extending unemployment benefits for 13 months, and some other stuff. It's expected to pass easily and will be sent to the House for follow-up action, probably on Wednesday. House Democrats have pretty much given up on the idea of walking away from the deal, which they almost unanimously disapprove of, and letting the tax cuts expire. Instead they will hold votes on amendments and see if a majority can agree on any changes. If not, they'll pass it as is.

National Journal explains how the House will choose amendments to vote on:

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Your Guide to the House Health Care Vote

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After more than 13 hours and 80 amendments later, the Rules Committee adjourned on Saturday night with a rule in place to allow the House of Representatives to debate and vote Sunday on the health care bill and the package of fixes in the reconciliation bill. As announced earlier in the day, there will be no "deem and pass" straegy employed. The health care bill and the reconciliation bill conatining the "fixes" will get straight up-or-down votes.

In total, it's expected that there will be seven votes held throughout the day. Two on the rule, two on budget points of order, one on a Republican motion to recommit, and one each on the two bills that will be voted on. All of the votes will require a simple majority of 216 "ayes" to pass. All the action is expected to start at about 1 p.m. ET. Here's your guide to Sunday's floor debate as the Democrats take this monumental step towards finalizing Congress and President Obama's health care reform effort.

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The Manager's Amendment

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As expected, the Rules Committee has released a "manager's amendment" (.pdf) to make some last minute changes to the budget reconciliation bill that contains the fixes to the Senate health care bill.

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"Deem and Pass" Deemed Dead

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Rules Committee meeting is still going on. But the biggest decision of the day has already been made. The Democrats have decided not to use the "self-executing rule," otherwise known as "deem and pass," and will instead hold a separate vote on passing the Senate health care bill.

This is a strong sign that Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] has more than enough votes for passing the health care bill on Sunday.

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Setting the Rules

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The House Committee on Rules meets at 10 a.m. ET today to craft the "rule" that will govern the big health care vote that is scheduled for Sunday in the House. The biggest question they'll have to tackle will be whether to use a "self-executing rule," which would allow the Democrats to deem the health care bill to be passed in the House without requiring them to take a stand-alone vote on it.

Here's your update on what to watch on Saurday as health care reform moves closer to the finish line.

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As I reported earlier, the "deem and pass" strategy that House Democrats are considering using for passing the Senate health care bill, allowing them to pass it without actually taking a separate vote on it, isn't unprecedented. It has been used at least 6 times for in the past 20 years for enacting what the Congressinoal Research Service calls "significant substantive and sometimes controversial propositions," mostly by Republicans.

But it has never been used in the way the Democrats are considering using it -- to pass a bill through the House that doesn't have the votes to pass on its own. As the research below shows, 4 of the 6 uses of the "deem and pass" process, also known as the "self-executing rule," were approved unanimously by voice vote. The other two passed with votes to spare. These are on the 6 supposedly controversial uses of the rule that CRS gives. It appears that the process has mainly been used to speed up adoption of Senate amendments that would have been easily approved under normal procedure.

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Since the politics of the self-executing rule (a.k.a. the "deem and pass" strategy, or the "Slaughter solution") are blowing up right now -- discussion of the rule currently dominates the top half of Memerorandum -- I thought I should bring back this historcial information from a post I wrote when the idea of using the rule for health care was first reported.

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Rep. Slaughter Takes on Credit Card Interest Rates

January 13, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Louise Slaughter [D, NY-28] recently introduced a bill along with Rep. John Tierney [D, MA-6] that would set a nation-wide annual credit card interest rate cap at 16%. She's bringing the bill straight to the Rules Committee, of which she is the Chair, in an attempt to prevent it from simply dying in committee.

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