POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/16

Girlfriend Backs Monserrate Comeback Attempt

Karla Giraldo, the girlfriend who New York state Sen. Hiram Monserrate “was charged with slashing and dragging through his apartment building, is endorsing his election efforts today in a homemade video,” the New York Post reports.

“The brief video shows Giraldo carrying a sign in support of Monserrate — who was ousted from the state senate after being convicted of misdemeanor assault in the case.”

Campbell, Whitman Still Lead in California

A new ccAdvertising survey in California finds Tom Campbell (R) leading the Republican U.S. Senate race with 24%, followed by Carly Fiorina (R) at 12% and Chuck DeVore (R) at 8%. However, there are still 56% undecided.

In the Republican race for governor, Meg Whitman (R) is still crushing Steve Poizner (R), 40% to 15%, with 45% undecided.

The Whip Count

Democrats appeared to be closing in “on achieving support from enough lawmakers in the House to pass a historic and sweeping health-care reform bill, though the outcome was still far from certain,” the Daily Caller reports.

“President Obama signaled said that while Democrats do not yet have the 216 votes they need in the House, he believes the votes will be there when they need to be.”

Roll Call has a nice chart of the 24 House members targeted by Democratic leaders.

Meanwhile, The Hill notes that “If every member votes and all GOP lawmakers vote no, the maximum number of Democratic defections to pass a bill is 37, which would result in a 216-215 tally.”

Colorado Caucuses Kick Off Tonight

The U.S. Senate race in Colorado “will enter a new and competitive phase today, when first-round precinct caucuses across the state unofficially kick off the campaign and serve as an early barometer of the candidates’ organizational strength and their support among base voters,” CQ Politics reports.

“While Colorado’s caucus process — a multi-layered procedure that will culminate at the state conventions on May 22 — isn’t necessarily predictive of success in the August primary election, it will give political activists their first real opportunity to weigh in on the competitive primaries for the seat Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is defending after his appointment 14 months ago. The leading vote-getters at the conventions earn top billing on the primary ballot.”

The Hotline: “Technically, the caucuses function more like a straw poll than an actual nominating event — the results are not binding, nor do they determine which candidates’ names will appear on the ballot in Aug. But the results do serve as an early indicator of candidates’ strength ahead of the real winnowing in May, when candidates must garner at least 30% of the delegate vote at their state party assemb. in order to make the primary ballot.”

Will Health Care Vote Be Constitutional?

(If it’s not, then there’s a whole lot of other legislation that was passed exactly the same way  that will also have to be thrown out. This is the typical method use to raise the debt ceiling without anyone having their fingerprints on it! fvm)

Constitutional law scholar Michael McConnell says that if House Democrats attempt to pass the Senate health care bill without actually voting on it, they may open the door to a Supreme Court challenge.

“These constitutional rules set forth in Article I are not mere exercises in formalism. They ensure the democratic accountability of our representatives. Under Section 7, no bill can become law unless it is put up for public vote by both houses of Congress, and under Section 5 ‘the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question . . . shall be entered on the Journal.’ These requirements enable the people to evaluate whether their representatives are promoting their interests and the public good. Democratic leaders have not announced whether they will pursue the Slaughter solution. But the very purpose of it is to enable members of the House to vote for something without appearing to do so. The Constitution was drafted to prevent that.”

Rick Hasen: “If I were working for the Democrats in Congress, I would take his concerns here very seriously. Could it really be that the Democrats want to give the Supreme Court a way to strike down the health care bill on a technicality, without even having to reach the merits?”

However, while Jack Balkin says McConnell’s concerns “are textually well founded,” he notes there is a way Democrats could proceed constitutionally.

“The House may do this on a single vote if the special rule that accompanies the reconciliation bill says that by passing the reconciliation bill the House agrees to pass the same text of the same bill that the Senate has passed. That is to say, the language of the special rule that accompanies the reconciliation bill must make the House take political responsibility for passing the same language as the Senate bill. The House must say that the House has consented to accept the text of the Senate bill as its own political act. At that point the President can sign the two bills, and it does not matter that the House has passed both through a special rule.”

House May Try to Pass Bill Without Voting On It

“After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate’s health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it,” the Washington Post reports.

Instead, Pelosi (D-CA) “would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers ‘deem’ the health-care bill to be passed. The tactic — known as a ‘self-executing rule’ or a ‘deem and pass’ — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill.”

Republicans, of course, are calling it the “Slaughter solution.”

Ezra Klein: “It’s a circuitous strategy born of necessity. Pelosi doesn’t have votes for the Senate bill without the reconciliation package. But the Senate parliamentarian said that the Senate bill must be signed into law before the reconciliation package can be signed into law. That removed Pelosi’s favored option of passing the reconciliation fixes before passing the Senate bill. So now the House will vote on reconciliation explicitly and the Senate bill implicitly, which is politically easier, even though the effect is not any different than if Congress were to pass the Senate bill first and pass the reconciliation fixes after.”

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