Gingrich Group Attacks Gingrich Tactic

March 17, 2010 3:34 pm ET

On March 17, 2010, Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future sent an email to supporters blasting self-executing rules as "blatantly unconstitutional." Yet as Speaker of the House, Gingrich "set new records" for the amount of self-executing rules, using them up 35% of the time in the 105th Congress.

Gingrich's American Solutions Calls Self-Executing Rules "Blatantly Unconstitutional"

American Solutions: "Passing Laws Without Voting On Them Is Blatantly Unconstitutional." In an email to supporters, Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future wrote:

Because Speaker Pelosi cannot find enough votes to pass the deeply unpopular ObamaCare bill in a constitutional way, she is hoping you and other Americans won't notice, or won't care, whether she passes ObamaCare in an unconstitutional and blatantly corrupt way.

Her latest plan is called the "Slaughter Rule", which would allow the House to vote on a different bill and "deem" the Senate's ObamaCare bill as being "passed" at the same time as the other bill is passed, without having an actual up and down vote on the ObamaCare bill.

Said Pelosi in an interview: "It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know....but I like it, because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill."

Pelosi may like "deeming" laws passed, but passing laws without voting on them is blatantly unconstitutional. [American Solutions email, 3/17/10]

As Speaker, Gingrich "Set New Records" For Amount Of Self-Executing Rules

As Speaker, Newt Gingrich "Set New Records" For The Amount Of Self-Executing Rules. According to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). There were 38 and 52 self-executing rules in the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995-1998), making up 25 percent and 35 percent of all rules, respectively. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) there were 40, 42 and 30 self-executing rules in the 106th, 107th and 108th Congresses (22 percent, 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively). Thus far in the 109th Congress, self-executing rules make up about 16 percent of all rules. [Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 6/19/06]

Self-Executing Rules Do Require An Up-Or-Down Vote

Ambinder: "They ARE Taking An Up Or Down Vote On The Senate Health Care Bill. They're Just Doing It AT THE SAME TIME As They're Passing The Reconciliation Language." On March 16, 2010, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote:

Yesterday, conservative jurist Michael McConnell argued that that Democrats are trying to finish the health care bill without voting on it.  Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, intoned that Democrats claim they never voted for it even though they'll vote to send it to the president for a signature.
But that's wrong. House Democrats aren't doing that.

In fact, they ARE taking an up or down vote on the Senate health care bill. They're just doing it AT THE SAME TIME as they're passing the reconciliation language, which countermands several controversial provisions. That is: House Democrats still have to vote for the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback," and the "Gator Aid" provisions, but they're going to do so while simultaneously passing the reconciliation fix that removes them. The two bills will essentially be merged into one vote.

But it's still an up or down vote on health care -- one that Republicans can use to bash Democrats with if they want to, but one that Democrats hope will provide them with some political cover -- yes, they voted for the Senate bill, but they did so with its amendments attached.

Republicans really don't have much of a constitutional argument because the Constitution gives the House and the Senate the power to define its own rules. If "deeming" a Senate bill as passed is ruled to be the same thing as passing it, then the bill is "passed," constitutionally. [The Atlantic, 3/16/10; emphasis added]