Fox News' extensive coverage of the new Republican House majority has so far ignored the fact that the GOP is reportedly embracing the use of the self-executing rule -- commonly referred to as "deem and pass" -- to mandate federal budget limits. By comparison, Fox figures repeatedly attacked Democrats for considering using the rule during the health care debate, dubbing it "demon pass" and questioning its constitutionality.
GOP Reportedly To Use "Deem And Pass" To Mandate Spending Limits
TPM: "GOP Plans To Implement The 'Demon Pass' They Once Decried." Talking Points Memo reported that the self-executing rule, also known as "deem and pass," "is scheduled to make its return to the Capitol Hill on January 5." According to TPM's Brian Beutler:
Because Democrats didn't pass a budget, and because spending authority expires in early March, there's a strong chance that the government will run out of money before the House and Senate agree to new spending levels. When that happens, under the new House rules, spending will continue -- but at levels no higher than those chosen by the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan.
As soon as those rules are adopted on Wednesday, Ryan's spending levels will be considered -- or "deemed" -- adopted by the full House as if they'd passed a budget with a floor vote. The legislative language in the rules package holds that Ryan's spending limits, "shall be considered as contained in a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2011 and the submission thereof into the Congressional Record shall be considered as the completion of congressional action on a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2011." [Talking Points Memo, 1/4/11 (emphasis in original)]
Fox Relentlessly Attacked Democrats For Considering Use of Rule During Health Care Debate
TPM: House Democrats "Toy[ed] With Using A Similar Process" And Faced Huge Right-Wing Backlash. Talking Points Memo also reported:
Back in March 2010, House Democrats were toying with using a similar process to pass health care reform. They were considering the Senate health care package, which they hated, and a package of amendments to that bill, which they liked. To square those views, they wanted to set up a procedural vote, which, if agreed to, would "deem" both bills passed at once. "Deem" and "pass."
This quickly became known as "Demon Pass," or the "Slaughter Solution," named after House Rules Chair Louise Slaughter. Republicans rebelled, and conservatives went off the deep end. Radio talk show host Mark Levin called it "100 times worse than Watergate."
Democrats eventually bowed to that pressure and decide not to use the process -- known technically as "deeming," or a "self-executing." [Talking Points Memo, 1/4/11]
Beck: "How Is This Even Constitutional?" Discussing the self-executing rule on the March 16 edition of his show, Glenn Beck asked: "How is this even constitutional?" Beck similarly wrote in his newsletter that Democrats are "slaughtering the Constitution" and that "the Constitution is being thwarted" if the health care reform legislation passes using the self-executing rule. [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 3/16/11]
Hannity: Democrats' "Latest Solution, Don't Vote At All." During the March 11 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated: "The desperation among Democrats to pass this health care bill has reached new heights. Now they lacked the votes in the House to jam this bill through. So their latest solution, don't vote at all. Now that's what House rules chairwoman Louise Slaughter is proposing. Now she wants to create a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed and once and for all by passing a minor bill that makes corrections to the Senate bill." [Fox News' Hannity, 3/11/10 (accessed via Nexis)]
Van Susteren Called Self-Executing Rule "Cowardly." On the March 17 edition of Fox News' On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Fox News contributor Dana Perino, "[T]his is a way so that the -- in a sense, that the House can go back to the districts and say, Look, I didn't vote for it because it's just been deemed passed, right?" and later claimed, "[I]f I were a Democratic member of Congress ... the last thing I would want to do is say I sort of cowardly did this deemer -- this 'deem scheme' thing." [Fox News' On the Record, 3/17/10, via Nexis]
Cavuto Compared Dems Who Vote On Self-Executing Rule To A "Nefarious Car Salesman." During an interview with former Republican Sen. Trent Lott, Neil Cavuto compared Democrats who vote for the self-executing rule as "a nefarious car salesman who says, well, yes, you bought this and you paid for this, when, in fact, you didn`t buy this and you didn't think you paid for this, right?" [Fox News' Your World, 3/15/10, via Nexis]
Hannity Criticized Pelosi For Supporting Deem And Pass. On March 18, Hannity criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her support of "deem and pass," calling it "unconstitutional" and suggesting that House Democrats are "bribing people." From Hannity:
HANNITY: Only 35 percent of those polled support this bill. But there was another interesting aspect of this poll, and that is, 53 percent think Nancy Pelosi is breaking the rules to pass Obama care.
I think they're bribing people on the one hand, they're buying off votes. And on the other hand, I think this is unconstitutional. Constitution, Article 1, section 7 clearly explains you've got to have an up-or-down, yea or nay vote, don't you?
So then you had to use this procedure, the Slaughter rule, deem and pass, whatever, both the same -- today because they didn't have the votes to pass this in the House of Representatives, OK. [Hannity, 3/18/10, via Nexis]
Beck Equated "Slaughter Rule" With "Secrecy," "Arm-Twisting," "Bribes," And Lies." On the March 18 edition of his Fox News show, Beck called for "the political game surrounding the health care bill" to be "addressed":
BECK: The health care bill is merely a battle. And it is a huge battle. I think it may be Normandy, but it's part of a bigger war.
And the war is the fundamental transformation, or restoration of our country. That is the game that they're playing. And while everybody is going to focus on the political game surrounding the health care bill, the Slaughter Rule, the secrecy, the arm-twisting, the bribes, the lies -- these things should be addressed. [Glenn Beck, 3/18/10, via Nexis]
Hannity Challenged Constitutionality of "Slaughter Rule," Advertises This On His Website. On the March 17 edition of his show, Hannity questioned the "constitutionality" of the "Slaughter rule":
HANNITY: [I]f this Slaughter rule is used, they have prepared -- I've put it up on my Web site. They have prepared a court challenge as to the constitutionality of it. There's also been talk about the constitutionality of mandates. [Hannity, 3/17/10, via Nexis]
Beck: "Let's Forget About That Whole Constitution Thing. ... Let's Just Instead Deem That It Has Been Passed In The House." On the March 19 edition of his show, Beck claimed:
BECK: The [health care reform] process that the president doesn't seem to care about has been so abused the average person in America has absolutely no idea what is even happening. What has happened to our country? Is there no honor anymore?
Yes, let's just -- let's forget about that whole Constitution thing where it has to pass both the House and the Senate, you know, no. Let's just instead deem that it has been passed in the House. [Glenn Beck, 3/19/10, via Nexis]
Yet Fox Goes Silent On Reported GOP Plans To Use Rule
Primetime Fox News Shows Fail To Cover GOP Use Of Self-Executing Rule. A Nexis search of January programs showed no mention of the self-executing rule on any Fox News shows. Media Matters searched Fox News transcripts from the networks' primetime shows from January 1 to January 7 using the search term (deem! w/5 pass! OR self-execut! OR slaughter OR without w/5 vot!).