Myths/Obamacare/Nancy Pelosi said we have to pass it to find out what's in it

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Myth: Nancy Pelosi said we have to pass Obamacare in order to find out what's in it.


It is frequently claimed (implicitly or explicitly) that Nancy Pelosi said that the only way to find out the full contents of the Obamacare bill would be to pass it, and then the contents would be made available to the public. Pelosi is often quoted as saying "we have to pass it to find out what's in it."

The implication seems to be some dark Democratic Party conspiracy to pass a bill whose contents are not known by anyone – but this is quite untrue; the full contents of the bill had been posted online, in the usual places, for quite some time before the final vote.


  • "PELOSI: WE HAVE TO PASS BILL SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT'S IN IT" — Fox News video clip, 0:09[1]
  • "the Democrats have to pass their terrible health care bill so that the American people can actually find out what's in it." – GOP email[2]
  • "WE have to pass a bill to know what is in it" — attributed to Nancy Pelosi on social media[3]


Although Politifact rated this as "mostly true"[4], they were far too charitable. In context it's clear that Pelosi was not saying "you can't read the bill's text until it has passed", but rather something like "we've heard all the arguments on both sides about what will happen if this is passed, but the only way to be sure is pass it and find out."

This is the most complete version of the quote we've been able to find:

We're very... uh, you've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, [garbled] items, but I don't know if you've heard that it is a legislation for the future. Not just about healthcare for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not... is not something that you have to pay a deductible for, or out-of-pocket... that prevention, prevention, prevention is about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting – but we have to pass the bill so you can, uh, find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.[5]

Those key words, "away from the fog of controversy", are somehow always missing from the citations.


<references> [1] [4] [2] [3] [5] </reference>

  1. 1.0 1.1 2010-03-09 Pelosi: "We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It" (Fox News): text on screen says "PELOSI: WE HAVE TO PASS BILL SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT'S IN IT"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2010-03-12 email sent by the GOP – but Politifact is apparently the only source for this
  3. 3.0 3.1 2015-07-20 comment on a Google+ thread by user dan stone
  4. 4.0 4.1 2010-03-15 Texas GOP says Speaker Nancy Pelosi said people will know contents of terrible health-care plan after it passes
  5. 5.0 5.1 2013-05-28 Nancy Pelosi Pass the Bill to find out what's in it (video, 0:53)