Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) is now the second Republican to reluctantly admit that “deem and pass” is a legitimate procedure that Republicans have used in the past. Asked if he had ever voted for reconciliation or “deem and pass” since joining Congress in 1997, Sessions said that he had, but stressed that it was only in instances where the bills passed the House and Senate:
CALLER: I want to ask you a question. Have you ever voted for the the deem and pass any time since you’re in Congress? And another one. Have you ever vote for reconciliation process before? How about The Paycheck Act in 2001. Did you voted for that, sir?
SESSIONS: I believe I have. As part of processes where bills have been through the House and through the Senate as they go through the process to conference. I believe there have been times that I have voted for it. I think anybody here who is talking about this processes would recognize and understand that we are talking about the bill that will be probably the largest bill in the history of Congress that we vote on in our generation.
Indeed, as a member of the Rules Committee, Sessions has been a big supporter of deem and pass during periods of Republican majority, a process he now considers “a disgrace to the House of Representatives [that] tramples on democracy by attempting to silence the voice of the American people.” As Norm Orenstein reminds us, “in the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.”