Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Logic of Pass-and-Patch Continued

I just finished writing about the problems for Republicans in trying to block a reconciliation fix if the House has already passed health care reform, when I see this item from TPM:
Three Democratic senators, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, have declared that they won't support a plan to have the House pass the Senate health care bill whole, then pass fixes to the bill through the reconciliation process.
Well, the first obvious point is that the Democrats have several votes to spare on reconciliation, so the fix can survive losing the most conservative Democrats.  It's no surprise that Bayh, Nelson, and Lincoln would want to hold this position, and I expect that Lieberman, Webb, and a couple of others will as well.

But: the even more obvious point is that they don't get a vote on whether the House approves the Senate bill (at least, not in a formal sense).  In other words, should the plan (that Bayh, Nelson, and Lincoln won't support) be pass-and-patch, then the only vote that they'll get on the Senate floor is whether or not to support the patch.  Health care reform would already be the law of the land; the only question for them is whether the reconciliation patch improves the bill or not. 

I'm not sure whether the patch will look good to marginal Democrats in the Senate, but I suspect it will.  My guess is that if it comes to it they will choose to rail against the procedure...and then most of them, perhaps all, will vote for the patch.

Of course, in order to get there, the House has to take the plunge and approve the Senate bill. 

2 comments:

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  2. I think (hope) that the Dems will ultimately see that Pass-and-Patch is their only hope to salvage HCR. I really don't know how to take Senate Dems insistence on slowing this process down. I am inclined to think this an effort to slowly kill the bill but perhaps the time will give Reid & Co. some time to pull something together.

    At this point, it's hard not to Monday Morning QB. I can't help but wonder if Dems would be in far better shape if Reid had listened to the White House and not included the Public Option in the Senate bill. We might have gotten Snowe or even Collins vote back in December.

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