Will House Dems Hold Their Noses And Pass Senate’s Health Bill?
January 18, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-The special election in Massachusetts to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat, has taken a shocking turn, with Republican challenger Scott Brown slightly ahead of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, in most of the recent polling. If Brown succeeds in winning the election in a very blue state, that spells disaster for not only health care reform, but for most of President Obama’s agenda for the remainder of the year leading into the 2010 mid-term elections.
In the wake of this very real threat of losing that all important 60th vote in the senate, Democrats are beginning to craft a plan to pass the complete Senate Bill in the House. That way, it could be passed without the need to send it back to the Senate for an additional vote.
Both congressional chambers have been ensconced with administration officials, to fine tune the legislation and reconcile the House’s more progressive version of the bill with the senate bill. But in order for the House to pass a health reform bill without sending it back to a Senate no longer having a 60 vote majority, no changes can be made to it.
President Obama would have to convince House members to basically hold their noses and pass the Senate bill, or face the prospect of having no bill at all, after months of hard work and expending political capital. The negotiated changes made to the measure could be added later in budget legislation.
The only other options would be the parliamentary budget reconciliation process in the Senate, which only requires 51 votes. But it would take time and drag out the process further, at a time when both lawmakers and Americans are tired of the process.
As noted in the New York Times:
“For supporters of the health care overhaul, the complaints with the Senate bill may seem minor compared with the prospect of outright defeat of the legislation, the president’s top domestic initiative, and the thought of Republicans’ using a health care failure to clobber Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections.”