Bachmann: Americans ‘Have Standing To Sue’ If House Uses Self-Executing Rule To Pass Health Care

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"Bachmann: Americans ‘Have Standing To Sue’ If House Uses Self-Executing Rule To Pass Health Care"

BachmannSmileLast week, Politico reported that House Democrats had discussed the possibility of avoiding a direct vote on Senate health care bill by using a “self-executing rule,” which would call for the Senate bill to be automatically attached to reconciliation legislation if the House votes to pass a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers. “In other words, Bill A would just become part of Bill B if the House passes Bill B, and the Senate could then vote on a reconciliation package before sending it to the president,” wrote Politico’s Patrick O’Connor to explain the process.

House Republicans coined this proposed maneuver the “Slaughter Solution” after House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), claiming it was a “scheme” to “bend the rules” in order to pass health care reform. On Friday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the proposal as “breathtakingly unconstitutional,” telling right-wing Minnesota radio host Chris Baker that “it would destroy Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution.” “No one’s ever seen anything like this before,” said Bachmann.

When Baker suggested that someone should be “arrested” if a “self-executing rule” is used, Bachmann declared that the parliamentary procedure would give every American “standing to sue against this bill”:

BAKER: Is there any point in which these people should be removed?

BACHMANN: Well, you’re right. It’s as though the people’s representatives are irrelevant because they want what they want and that has more in common with Chavez in Venezuela than it does with the way that we do business here in the United States. Yes, what, I believe, what could happen is if they decide to go down this very bad road, pass a rule that says that we’re just going to pretend that the bill is already passed, if they do that then American citizens have standing to sue against this bill because everyone will be negatively impacted because of the bill. It will impose the mandates, it will jack up everyone’s insurance premiums and taxes. So people would have the right to sue. So you will see, you’ll see scores of people filing lawsuits against this and it will be just tied up in knots. I mean, we’ve had nothing but division and disruption and frustration and it’s just been chaos here in Washington, DC.

Listen here:

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the House isn’t likely to go the “self-executing rule” route. Instead, “Democrats now envision the House passing the Senate version of the legislation, then taking up a narrow package of budget-oriented changes. If the House approves the changes, they would go to the Senate.”

But if Democrats do end up using the Slaughter method, it would not be the unprecedented, unconstitutional event that Bachmann describes. In fact, as Time’s Karen Tumulty points out, another name for the “Slaughter Solution” could be the “Dreier Doctrine,” named after former Republican Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier (R-CA). Tumulty writes that self-executing rules are “something that House members tend to complain about when they are in the minority — and use at will when they are in the majority.” As Don Wolfensberger, the former staff director of the House Rules Committee, wrote in 2006, “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).”

Transcript:

BACHMANN: Now they want to say that they’ve passed it without having the House vote on it.

BAKER: Now how do you do this? How do you pass a bill without voting?

BACHMANN: Well, you can’t. It’s a fiction. It’s impossible. It would destroy Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. That portion of the Constitution mandates that that any member of Congress’ name, like Michele Bachmann, has to be recorded next to a yes or no vote. And so, if you believe the bill is passed, you’d have to have a recorded vote to point to. And what they want to do is pass a rule of debate. So, they would want us to vote on a rule that just talks about the parameters of debate. This is how long we’ll debate. This is how many amendments you can offer. And on that rule they want to say that they will stipulate that we’ve already passed the bill. So we’ve passed a rule about the debate, but in the rule they’ll say, well, the bill’s already been passed. It..it…

BAKER: This, this is dishonest as it gets.

BACHMANN: It it it doesn’t get anymore dishonest. It’s breathtakingly unconstitutional. But they can’t do that because how can you vote just for a rule on how we’re going to debate. It’s putting the cart before the horse because in that rule you’re saying the bill’s already been passed. It, that’s why it’s a fiction. It’s impossible to do and I think even the mainstream liberal press out here were, their jaws went slack. They, they just couldn’t believe it. I mean no one’s ever seen anything like this before.

BAKER: Yeah. Oh my gosh, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann with us here on the Chris Baker radio show.

BACHMANN: And it shows how desperate they are to pass this. They’re so desperate, they can’t get their votes together. The Democrats in the House are so embarrassed of this bill, they don’t want their name next to a recorded vote and that’s why they want to figure out some way to say they passed it without actually voting for it.

BAKER: Well, this is really…

BACHMANN: It’s weird. It’s weird.

BAKER: Well, first of all, has anyone calling them out on this? I mean, is anyone standing up and saying, listen you can’t do this?

BACHMANN: Well, I think a number of us are. I’ve been trying to get on every media I can nationally and locally to tell people what they’re doing here this week and I think that’s why we’re going to see so many people at the rally tomorrow. Because this is just, this is beyond anyone’s thinking. I mean there’s a woman who came up to me yesterday, long-time working here at the Capitol. She’s non-partisan, been here for years. She had tears in her eyes and she said to me, “what are they doing to my country? Don’t they think they have to even follow the laws anymore?” I mean, this is just making it up out of the air. Pass a rule that says we’ve already passed a bill that we haven’t.

BAKER: But, here’s what I don’t understand. So you have that horrible Senate bill and then you have the President’s little list of what he would like. Like a Christmas list. And they’re treating his Christmas list as if it’s an actual piece of legislation, it seems like.

BACHMANN: They are. They’re treating it like it is a bill, but the Congressional Budget Office tells us how much a bill will cost and they’re throwing their hands up saying, “we can’t do this. We can’t look at this little 11 or 12 pages of bullet points and tell you how much a bill is going to cost.” Because see what they want to do is they want to pretend that they’ve passed bill and then later after wards they’ll figure out what’s in it and how much it’s going to cost. That’s why you heard Speaker Pelosi this week say, “let’s pass the bill and then we can, that way we’ll know what’s in it.”

BAKER: Ugh. Now, is there a point where someone can get arrested.

BACHMANN: Hehe.

BAKER: Now, I’m serious. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann here with us on the Chris Baker program. I mean, there’s procedure, there’s agreement, there’s disagreement and then of course there’s tactics, which we’ve seen in this health care debate.

BACHMANN: Then there’s corruption.

BAKER: Right, absolutely, there’s corruption, but at some point can the American people demand that as an example Nancy Pelosi be removed from office. I mean, this is a woman who clearly has zero respect for the American citizen. I mean you can’t govern without the consent of the governed. So, obviously these are people who are hell bent on bringing this legislation forward and passing it in any way possible. It’s almost like it’s a superficial passing of the legislation. And is there any point in which these people should be removed?

BACHMANN: Well, you’re right. It’s as though the people’s representatives are irrelevant because they want what they want and that has more in common with Chavez in Venezuela than it does with the way that we do business here in the United States. Yes, what, I believe, what could happen is if they decide to go down this very bad road, pass a rule that says that we’re just going to pretend that the bill is already passed, if they do that then American citizens have standing to sue against this bill because everyone will be negatively impacted because of the bill. It will impose the mandates, it will jack up everyone’s insurance premiums and taxes. So people would have the right to sue. So you will see, you’ll see scores of people filing lawsuits against this and it will be just tied up in knots. I mean, we’ve had nothing but division and disruption and frustration and it’s just been chaos here in Washington, DC.

BAKER: Well, I see nothing but deceit. I mean, I just, I’m watching absolute deceit and tactics that I haven’t seen since I was a kid watching the old Soviet Union. It seems that everything, is you know, it’s a central planning committee.

BACHMANN: Yes. It is. It is.

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Bachmann also attacked the potential use of a self-executing rule in a speech on Saturday. Having “members vote on something that they never voted for sounds more like a Chavez tactic in Venezuela than Jefferson,” Bachmann said. “In fact, Jefferson told us we have a duty to resist tyranny.”


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,Also at the Saturday rally, as TPM’s Eric Kleefeld notes, Bachmann said that Americans “don’t have to” follow the law if it is passed using a self-executing rule. “We aren’t gonna play their game, we’re not gonna pay their taxes,” said Bachmann. “They want us to pay for this? Because we don’t have to. We don’t have to. We don’t have to follow a bill that isn’t law. That’s not the American way, and that’s not what we’re going to do.”

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