Tea partiers gathered on Capitol Hill today to protest Democratic health care reform, and the new controversy over "deem and pass" procedure figured noticeably in at least one speech the activists heard.
Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, spoke to the protesters and attacked the procedure floated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which would allow the House to vote on reconciliation fixes to the Senate bill (which are more popular) without first voting on the Senate bill itself, deeming that bill as passed as the reconciliation-fix vote happens. The procedure has caused a stir, though Marc notes that it would not mean passing health care without an actual vote.
Pence told the tea party activists (transcript provided by his office):
Liberals in Washington, D.C., are so desperate to pass this government takeover of health care, they're willing to trample the historic role and rules of the Senate to do it in the form of reconciliation and if reconciliation tramples the rules of the Senate, the Slaughter House Rules insults the intelligence of the American people and tramples on the Constitution of the United States of America and it must be rejected.
Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution puts it simply. I learned this first from School House Rock. If a bill becomes a law, it shall be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. It's that simple. For a bill to become a law, Madam Speaker, Senator Reid, it has to pass the House, it has to pass the Senate. If your bill can't pass the House, scrap the bill. Start over.
The rally was organized by FreedomWorks and some activists affiliated with Tea Party Patriots. Ben Smith notes discrepancy over attendance: an activist involved in the rally estimated 2,000 were there; Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse estimated a much more skeptical 300 attendees this morning.