Republicans warn Democrats against legislative "subterfuge" 

Rep. David Dreier, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, held a roundtable with reporters Monday afternoon to decry a move by House Democrats to try to pass the $1 trillion Senate health care reform bill without having an up or down vote.

"The American people are angry we are resorting to this kind of subterfuge to avoid accountability," Dreier told reporters packed into a small conference room in his Capitol suite.

Nobody actually knows what legislative path House Democratic leaders will take as they attempt to round up the 216 votes they need to pass the bill. With no Republicans on board, they need to convince their wary conference to vote for something scoring low in the polls. They are weighing a move to provide vulnerable Democrats cover by holding a vote on a bill that would correct some of the unattractive aspects of the Senate bill and through that action deem the less popular Senate bill passed.

But the president would have to sign the Senate bill into law before the Senate could take up the corrective legislation and there is no guarantee that they will be able to pass the second bill.

House members are keenly aware of this and many are withholding their vote because of it, but the tactic of deeming the Senate bill passed without a vote will undoubtedly lure in a few votes.

Dreier said he wants to make the public more aware of the issue, which could counter arguments made by White House officials that the public doesn't care about process.

"Process is substance," Dreier insisted.

A vote could come by this weekend.

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Susan Ferrechio

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