Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stirred faux outrage over the House Democrats’ plan to use a “self-executing rule” to pass the Senate health care reform bill, saying Americans would “have standing to sue against” the bill and that it’s “breathtakingly unconstitutional.” The claim has now turned into the latest fact-free GOP talking point to try to kill reform; Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) picked up on the theme yesterday. “It really tramples on the Constitution of the United States,” he said on the House floor.
Today, the Daily Caller’s Jon Ward asked Pence if it was “correct” to call the rule “unconstitutional.” “Well I think it’s probably unconstitutional,” he said, adding, “My background in law and constitutional issues suggests to me it’s unconstitutional.” But later in the interview, Pence admitted that he had voted for self-executing rules in the past:
THE DAILY CALLER: My question is, though, that Democrats say you voted for self-executing rules yourself on three occasions.
PENCE: Yeah, sure.
Pence said those votes were different because, he claims, the House is passing the Senate bill without technically voting on it. “The Senate bill has never passed the House.” Later, Pence admitted that the House wouldn’t actually be voting on the bill anyway:
THE DAILY CALLER: So procedurally they’re not voting for the Senate bill, and I understand your point about how legislation of this magnitude has never been passed, but for all practical purposes won’t it still be considered a vote for the Senate bill, a vote for reconciliation?
PENCE: I don’t think so.
Pence then became confused. “If you say that you don’t think this will be perceived as a vote for the Senate bill, you can’t go out and run ads against House Democrats saying they voted for health care,” the Daily Caller noted. “You lost me on that one,” Pence replied. “What do you mean?”
This morning on ABC, Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) admitted that the self-executing rule is legal and has been used many times — even by Republicans — in the past. “The rules of the House allow for this type of deeming provision, it’s called a self-executing provision which means that once the bill, the rule for the next bill passes, the Senate bill is automatically is deemed as having passed,” he said.