Back in September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she was “absolutely” committed to having the final language of any health care bill posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote on the House floor.
Well, the bill isn’t finished, with major issues such as taxpayer funding of abortions and rules governing amendments still unresolved. Nonetheless, the Speaker is rushing towards a Saturday vote on the bill.
Back on September 24, the Weekly Standard asked Ms. Pelosi at a news conference: “Do you support the measure to put the final House bill online for 72 hours before it’s voted on at the very end?” Her response was “Absolutely. Without question.”
But now Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly tells the Standard: “No, [the] pledge was to have manager’s amendment online for 72 hours and we will do that.” The manager’s amendment makes major changes to a bill (witness the 309-page monstrosity dropped on Congress just before July’s vote on the “cap-and-trade” global warming bill). But it’s not the final bill, so Speaker Pelosi’s pledge last September was hollow.
Mrs. Pelosi viewed rushing to judgment on bills differently when she was in the minority. In 2004, she unveiled a proposed “Bill of Rights” to protect House minority interests, which included giving members enough time to read bills and a stop to the practice of holding votes open well past the normal 15 minutes. She had a point: In late 2003, Republican leaders held open a roll-call vote on the Medicare drug entitlement for three hours until they bullied enough wavering members into voting aye.
“When we [Democrats] are shut out, they are shutting out the great diversity of America. We want a higher standard,” Ms. Pelosi said at the time. In 2006, just before becoming speaker, she reiterated her plans to promote “bipartisanship” and “to ensure the rights of the minority.”
That was then. Now Ms. Pelosi is intent on using her political machine to run roughshod over opposition. Republican consultant Alex Castellanos notes that Democrats are replicating the worst practices of the Bush Republicans: “It is ironic that Obama and the Democrats are becoming the very thing they worked so hard to reject. Democrats criticized George W. Bush and the Republicans for not listening to Americans and being blindly ideological and inflexible. They might as well put on his swaggering Texas belt-buckle. They have caught the disease they tried to cure.”
‘John Fund is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal’