GOP Tries to Block "Slaughter Solution" in Health Care Vote

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health care

With just days left before health care reform is put to a vote in the House, Republicans are ratcheting up their opposition to a tactic Democrats may use to get around a direct vote on the Senate bill.

A number of House Democrats are leery about having a vote on the record for the Senate bill, since it is filled with politically damaging provisions like the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback," which exempts Sen. Ben Nelson's state of Nebraska from having to pay for any expansion of Medicaid. To get around voting for the Senate bill directly, the House would create a rule to pass the bill at the same time the House passes a reconciliation "fix it" bill.

Republicans from the start attacked the maneuver, pegging it as the "Slaughter Solution," in reference to House Rules Chairman Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). With new confirmation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday that Democrats may use the maneuver, Republicans revived their opposition to the plan.

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House Republican Leader John Boehner announced today that his party will call for a vote on a resolution requiring an actual up-or-down House vote on the Senate health care bill, order to prevent the so-called Slaughter solution.

"The 'Slaughter Solution' is the ultimate in Washington power grabs, a legislative ploy that lets Democrats defy the will of the American people while attempting to eliminate any trace of actually doing so," Boehner said in a statement. "It shows you just how controversial this government takeover of health care has become that it takes a controversial maneuver just to vote on it. By supporting this resolution, Democrats can demonstrate that they will not try to hide from their constituents."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also berated the plan on the Senate floor today.

"We saw the 'Cornhusker Kickback,' the 'Louisiana Purchase,' and the all the rest," he said. "As distasteful as all these deals have been, they were child's play - child's play - compared to the scheme that they've been cooking up over in the house just this week."

He called the plan " jaw dropping in its audacity."

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Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.) is calling for cameras in the Rules Committee, in order to begin "shedding sunlight on these shadowy procedures."

Republicans are even questioning the constitutionality of the plan. "It really tramples on the Constitution of the United States," Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said on the House floor this morning, Politico reports.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is also calling the plan "a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution," but CBS News Chief Political Analyst, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, contends the move is perfectly legit. The Congress gets to define its own rules and gets to decide what "passing" a bill means, he points out.

In spite of what they say about it now, Republicans have used the "Slaughter Solution" in a number of instances, according to Ambinder, including once to pass a $40 billion deficit reduction bill and once in 2005 to avoid a recorded vote on an immigration measure.

"It really is too bad that this kind of misinformation is made up so readily by people who absolutely know better," Slaughter said today, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer Jill Jackson reports. "There's no way in the world we would be doing an unconstitutional thing."

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