(Bloomberg) – Members of the U.S. House approved H.R. 4302, a Medicare physician reimbursement bill, by a “unanimous” voice vote Thursday.
The voice vote masked the fact that supporters had trouble rounding up enough votes to pass the bill at all, some lawmakers say.
Lawmakers say House Republican leaders dealt with a lack of certainty about passage of H.R. 4302 by simply not counting votes.
The presiding officer, Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., called for a voice vote, asked for the ayes first, and then asked for the nays. He declared the ayes sufficient.
While consideration of H.R. 4302 was already underway, checks of where lawmakers stood on the bill revealed uncertainty about whether it would pass.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was heard to say on the floor that the House should avoid taking a roll-call vote.
House leaders stopped proceedings on the House floor for about a half hour while mulling their next move. They settled on Upton’s strategy.
The voice vote caught some lawmakers by surprise.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said that, by the time he arrived on the floor after hearing a bell summoning lawmakers to the chamber, the bill had already passed.
“I have no idea” how the vote came about, he said.
The temporary Medicare doc fix bill “was a take-it-or-leave-it deal” worked out by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told reporters.
Fleming said the strategy was cleared with leaders on both sides and members of the doctors’ caucus, which includes him.
H.R. 4302 now goes to the Senate.
24 percent pay cut