On Capitol Hill today, while Speaker Pelosi has been working to get the votes she needs behind the scenes, the House Rules Committee has been meeting to produce the rule for tomorrow’s vote. Because the actual substance of the rule is being decided elsewhere by the Speaker (as many Hill Republicans had suspected, Pelosi seems to be using the rule as a negotiating chip with some of her wavering members, and may well give up on “deem and pass” to appear to be giving them something in return for their vote), the long committee meeting (which is still going on, live C-SPAN coverage can be found here) instead turned into a wide-ranging discussion of the health-care bill itself. The Democrats have not come off well in that debate.
Most worthwhile so far has been Paul Ryan’s testimony from this morning (you can watch it here), and his exchange with some Democratic members of the committee about his own plan compared to theirs (here). And then of course (as Dan notes below) there was Alcee Hastings’s comment in defense of the Democrats’ approach:
I wish that I had been there when Thomas Edison made the remark that I think applies here: “There ain’t no rules around here, we’re trying to accomplish something.” And therefore, when the deal goes down, all this talk about rules, we make them up as we go along.
Hastings is, needless to say, a longtime member of the House Rules Committee.
If only it mattered. But the real action, of course, is going on elsewhere—mostly in the Speaker’s office, where Pelosi is searching for her last few votes. It’s clear she doesn’t have them yet. Let us hope it stays that way.