The Big Misconception About "Deem and Pass"
Over at TNR, congressional expert Sarah Binder provides a very useful and detailed explanation of the procedures the House will go through this weekend in dealing with health reform. There will be (assuming things go as planned and Democrats have their votes) four separate votes: one on a Republican motion to recommit the rule for consideration of the reconciliation bill, one on the rule itself, one on a Republican motion to recommit the reconciliation bill, and one on the reconciliation bill. If the first or third motions pass, or the second or fourth votes fail to pass, health reform will have been defeated, at least for the moment if not forever.
But it's the vote on the rule that will (assuming the Rules Committee goes in the direction Speaker Pelosi has indicated is likely) "deem" the Senate health care bill as having been enacted. This "self-executing rule" is what all the yelling and screaming on the Right is about. But since everybody understands what's going on, it is fundamentaly erroneous to say that the House is trying to avoid a vote on the Senate bill. The vote on the rule is a vote on the Senate bill, and will have exactly the same effect as an explicit vote on the Senate bill, no more and no less.
That fact obviously does raise the question of why the House leadership is utilizing the "deem and pass strategy," since anyone voting for the rule is actually voting for the Senate bill. I can't answer that question, but presumably this basically meaningless distinction matters to at least one House Democrat. But in any event, the conservative charge that the House is going to enact the Senate bill without voting on it just isn't true, and is simply part of the fog Republicans are trying to spread over the fact that by the end of this process (again, if all goes as planned), majorities in both Houses will have twice approved health reform.