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Health-Care Maneuver Would Spur Challenges

Publication Date: 
March 18, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
Jess Bravin

Professor Michael McConnell, an expert on constitutional law, is quoted on the constitutionality of using "deem and pass" to pass the health care reform bill in Congress. Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal filed this story:

Democrats can point to extensive precedent for the "deeming" maneuver they might use to pass their health-care overhaul, but Republicans—and some legal scholars—say the tactic has never been employed for such a major piece of legislation, and may be unconstitutional to boot.

"Deeming" means lawmakers' passage of one bill implies their passage of another; in this case, House members are weighing the health-care overhaul passed by the Senate on Dec. 24 along with a package of changes to that bill. The latter includes adjustments such as reducing the tax that would be levied on high-value health-insurance plans.


Michael McConnell , a professor at Stanford Law School, points to a line in the Constitution's Article I saying "Every Bill shall have passed" both houses of Congress to become law. If the House passes the Senate bill and the package of changes in one set, while the Senate adopts each separately, then the two chambers can't be said to have passed the same law, he said.