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A self-executing rule is procedural measure used by the U.S. 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 bill as also approved without requiring a separate vote, as long as that second bill is specified in the rule. That is, if the vote on the rule passes, then the second bill 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 simple 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 a separate matter as specified by the rule. For example, modifications or amendments can be approved while underlying bill is approved at the same time.[1]

The procedure is often used to streamline the legislative process, and has been used several times in the past.[2][1] Some legal scholars question whether the process is constitutional (see Legal arguments, below).[3][4]



The self-executing rule began in the 1930s.[3] From the 95th-98th Congresses (1977-1984) the self-executing rule was used eight times, 20 times under Speaker O’Neill in the 99th Congress and 18 times under Speaker Wright in the 100th Congress. Under Speaker Gingrich there were 38 self-executing rules in the 104th Congress and 52 in the 105th Congress (1995-1998). Under Speaker Dennis Hastert there were 40 self-executing rules in the 106th Congress, 42 in the 107th Congress and 30 in the 108th Congress (1999-2007).[5]

In March 2010, the procedure is one option being considered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the United States Senate health care reform bill, H.R. 3590.[2][6]

Legal arguments

Some analysts have questioned the constitutionality of the self-executing rule.[3] Some lawyers and public advocacy groups cite the 1998 Clinton v. City of New York Supreme Court case related to the line item veto,[7] and the 1983 Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983) case related to the legislative veto to support these claims.[4][8] Others point to a 2006 case before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia regarding the Deficit Reducation Act, which, in part, ruled in favor of the self-executing provision.[9][3] That ruling was upheld on appeal in 2007, but never argued before the Supreme Court.[10]

See also

Further reading

External Links


  1. ^ a b Oleszek, Walter J. (December 21, 2006). "“Self-Executing” Rules Reported by the House Rules Committee" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Montgomery, Lori; Paul Kane (March 16, 2010). "House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it". Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Linkins, Jason (2010-03-16). "Health Care Opponents Demonize 'Deem And Pass' As The Media Gets It Wrong". Retrieved 2010-03016. 
  4. ^ a b Barbash, Fred (2010-03-16). "‘Slaughter Solution’ could face legal challenge". Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Wolfensberger, Don (2006-06-19). "House Executes Deliberation With Special Rules". Roll Call. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "A dizzying array of options to pass health care". Live Pulse Blog. March 9, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (USS 1998).
  8. ^ Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (USS 1983).
  9. ^ Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 451 F.Supp.2d 109 (DDC 2006).
  10. ^ Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 486 F.3d 1342 (CADC 2007).


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