Rep. Pence: Dems 'So Desperate’ to Pass Health Care They'll ‘Trample Upon The Constitution’

March 18, 2010 - 10:46 PM
Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Thursday that the Democrats' plan to pass the Senate health care bill without a formal vote in the House goes against "our system of government" and shows that Democrats are willing to "trample upon the Constitution itself." 

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 19, 2010. (Photo by CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com) -- Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Thursday that the Democrats' plan to pass the Senate health care bill without a formal vote in the House goes against “our system of government” and shows that Democrats are willing to “trample upon the Constitution itself." 
 
“The American people know under our system of government that a bill cannot become a law unless it passes the House by a majority, the Senate by a majority, and it’s signed by the president of the United States,” said Rep. Pence at a press conference where Republicans were calling for news cameras to be allowed inside the House Rules Committee during the debate over the rule for proceeding with health care legislation.
 
“While some are pointing to other procedural uses of deeming before, there is no instance in the history of the United States of America where landmark legislation has been sent to the president’s desk without an up or down vote on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate,” said the Indiana congressman. “It has never happened before, but it could happen now.”
 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has proposed the option of using the "Slaughter Rule" -- named for Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D.-N.Y.) who crafted it -- to pass the Senate health care bill. The special rule would allow the bill to be passed without an actual up-down, yea-nay vote from members in the House of Representatives. 
 
Here is how it works: A budget reconciliation bill would make “fixes” desired by House Democrats to the existing Senate version of health care legislation. This bill has already passed the House Budget Committee and is awaiting a full vote in the House. The Rules Committee has to pass the Slaughter Rule and then it also faces a vote by the full House. 
 
If the House passes the special rule and the reconciliation bill, then their decision, because of the special rule, would mean the Senate version of health care would be “deemed” as "passed." The House members would vote on the rule and the "fixes" reconciliation bill, but they would not actually vote on the 2,074-page Senate health care bill.


Speaker Pelosi has indicated that using the Slaughter Rule will depend upon the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of the reconciliation bill: the Reconciliation Act of 2010. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated to CNSNew.com   that the House of Representatives would use the special rule. 
 

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)

Rep. Pence pointed out that the possible use of such legislative maneuvering is testament to the Democrats’ desperation to pass the sweeping bill, which will affect all Americans and one-sixth of the U.S. economy. 
 
“It truly is astonishing when I think about this process," he said. "Democrats are so desperate to pass their government take over of health care that they’re willing to twist the rules of the House and the Senate and trample upon the Constitution itself to pass this bill." 
 
“The American people deserve to know it,” said Pence. 
 
He continued: “They deserve to be in the Rules Committee when this debate takes place because I believe if they see what’s going on here, the American people will continue to rise up with one voice. We will turn back this government takeover of health care, and we will start over immediately with a bi-partisan coalition of this Congress that is committed to passing health care reform that will lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government."
 
 
Article I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution requires that for a bill to become law it must be voted on by both chambers of Congress and then sent to the President who signs into law or vetoes it. The section states: 
 
“Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.” 
 
 
A partial transcript of Rep. Pence’s comments at Thursday's press conference follows below:  
 
Pence: "Men and women, this is a very serious time in the life of the nation. This government is on the cusp of passing a government takeover of health care. It will not just affect one-sixth of the American economy, it will affect 100 percent of the American people for generations to come. The American people don’t want what this administration and this Congress are selling and so they’re trying to bring it through the back door, but today thanks to the leadership of the distinguished members of the Rules Committee, we’re going to get some sunshine in the rules committee. 
 
"Speaker Pelosi has come up with an approach to pass legislation, a trillion dollars that would mandate that every American purchase health insurance whether they want it or need it or not; that every business would offer health insurance or pay a fine or tax to the government; would cost tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance that they have; and relegate tens of millions to government run insurance. She wants to pass all of that as the headline said yesterday, without taking a vote. 
 
"Now I got to tell you, I got a law degree, but I can take you all the way back to school house rock to say that just doesn’t make sense to the American people. The American people know that under our system of government a bill cannot become a law unless it passes the House by a majority, the Senate by a majority, and it’s signed by the president of the United States. And as the ranking member says, while some are pointing to other procedural uses of deeming before, there is no instance in the history of the United States of America where landmark legislation has been sent to the president’s desk without an up or down vote on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate. It has never happened before, but it could happen now. 
 
"The American people deserve to have eyes and ears in that room and so we need cameras in that room. First amendment freedom of the press was not put in the Constitution because our founders got good press. The first amendment freedom of the press was put in the constitution because a free independent press is the only check on government power in real time and this enormous power grab by the federal government over one-sixth of this economy deserves public scrutiny and deserves the broad daylight of a free and independent press. 
 
"It truly is astonishing when I think about this process. Democrats are so desperate to pass their government take over of health care that they’re willing to twist the rules of the House and the Senate and trample upon the Constitution itself to pass this bill. The American people deserve to know it. They deserve to be in the Rules Committee when this debate takes place because I believe if they see what’s going on here, the American people will continue to rise up with one voice, we will turn back this government takeover of health care, and we will start over immediately with a bi-partisan coalition of this Congress that is committed to passing health care reform that will lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government."