The self-executing rule, also known as "deem and pass", is procedural measure used by the United States House of Representatives to approve legislation. If the full House votes to approve a legislative rule that contains such a provision, the House then deems a second piece of legislation as approved without requiring a separate vote, as long as it is specified in the rule. That is, if the vote on the rule passes, then the second piece of legislation is passed as part of the rule vote.
When considering a bill for debate, the House must first adopt a rule for the debate as proposed by the House Rules Committee. This rule comes in the form of a resolution which specifies which issues or bills are to be considered by the House. If the House votes to approve a rule that contains a self-executing provision, it simultaneously agrees to dispose of the separate matter as specified by the rule. For example, modifications or amendments can be approved while the underlying bill is also approved at the same time.
The self-executing rule began in the 1930s. From the 95th to the 98th Congresses (1977–1984) the self-executing rule was used eight times, 20 times under Speaker O’Neill (D) in the 99th Congress and 18 times under Speaker Wright (D) in the 100th Congress. Under Speaker Gingrich (R) there were 38 self-executing rules in the 104th Congress and 52 in the 105th Congress (1995–1998). Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) there were 40 self-executing rules in the 106th Congress, 42 in the 107th Congress and 30 in the 108th Congress (1999–2007).
In March 2010, the procedure was one option considered, but then rejected, by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and congressional Democrats to pass the Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), as part of President Obama's health care reform initiative.
Some analysts have questioned the constitutionality of the self-executing rule. Some lawyers and public advocacy groups cite the 1998 Supreme Court case Clinton v. City of New York relating to the line item veto, and the 1983 case Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha 462 U.S. 919 (1983) relating to the legislative veto to support these claims. Others point to a 2006 case before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia regarding the Deficit Reduction Act, which, in part, ruled in favor of the self-executing provision. That ruling was upheld on appeal in 2007, but never argued before the Supreme Court.
- Standing Rules of the United States House of Representatives
- Suspension of the rules in the United States Congress
- Oleszek, Walter J. (December 21, 2006). ""Self-Executing" Rules Reported by the House Rules Committee" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- Linkins, Jason (2010-03-16). "Health Care Opponents Demonize 'Deem And Pass' As The Media Gets It Wrong". HuffingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- Barbash, Fred (2010-03-16). "‘Slaughter Solution’ could face legal challenge". Politico.com. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
- Wolfensberger, Don (2006-06-19). "House Executes Deliberation With Special Rules". Roll Call. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Montgomery, Lori; Paul Kane (March 16, 2010). "House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- "A dizzying array of options to pass health care". Live Pulse Blog. Politico.com. March 9, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
- Montgomery, Lori (2010-03-20). "House leaders plan separate health vote, rejecting 'deem and pass'". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (USS 1998).
- Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (USS 1983).
- Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 451 F.Supp.2d 109 (DDC 2006).
- Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 486 F.3d 1342 (CADC 2007).
- Oleszek, Walter J. (December 21, 2006). ""Self-Executing" Rules Reported by the House Rules Committee" (PDF). Congressional Research Service.