Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reconciliation

I'm be tweeting today's historic meeting of the House, on and off, and perhaps some of the news coverage as well.  For those who haven't followed my live-tweeting attempts...this is mostly just theater review; if I have anything analytic, or at least significant and analytic, to say I'll post it here. 

At some point, today or tomorrow, I'll have a couple "what comes next" posts -- not about the rest of the process over the next week or so, but over the politics of health care reform after the bill(s) are signed into law (assuming that happens!).  So I should recap here the process stuff.  Assuming the votes go as expected today, we'll then get the Senate consideration of reconciliation.  Republicans will certainly try to either add at least one amendment or strike at least one provision in order to force the House to vote again.  As I've been saying for some time, however, the reconciliation bill is not in fact a tough vote, and so that strategy is unlikely to be successful.

The other strategy is to delay passage in the Senate by endless amendments.  The question there is about whether, at some point, the Democrats will cut off amendments on the grounds that they are dilatory.  The other question is whether, at some point, Republicans will realize that they are opposing mostly popular stuff.  Earlier, I set the line for passage of reconciliation in the Senate at 58 votes, and said I'd take the over -- and I said that it wouldn't surprise me if some Republicans decided to flip and support it.  However, the inclusion of student loan reform changes that; there are a handful of Democrats who oppose the student loan bill, and its inclusion is almost certainly enough to fuel Republican opposition to the bill on substantive grounds.  I still think the bill will pass easily, but it's a lot easier for Republicans to oppose it now, and its possible that it will lose several Democrats. 

Of course, the key vote remains the House vote on the big bill, today.  Even if something went wrong with reconciliation -- which, again, is extremely unlikely -- it doesn't really matter in the long run, because health care reform would be law of the land. 

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