Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Option Closed

Looks like the Senate parliamentarian has said that pass and patch has to be pass then patch.  So no go on the various House schemes to avoid a separate vote on the Senate bill, assuming those reports are accurate.

I've said unkind things about Kent Conrad in the past, but if Ezra Klein is correct about what Conrad said today, I take them back:
In the Democrats' Senate Caucus meeting today, Kent Conrad apparently argued that this left the Democrats in an even stronger moral position. The reconciliation rider fixes unpopular elements of the health-care bill: the Nebraska deal, the Florida deal, the excise tax and so forth. If Republicans figure out some nuclear level of obstruction that could actually derail the reconciliation process, then they will effectively own the worst elements of the Senate bill, and Democrats can just spend their time hammering Republican obstructionism that has so lost touch with reality that they'd rather keep legislation they're against than let Democrats fix it. Or so goes the argument.
Perhaps Kent Conrad has been reading Plain Blog
By the time the bill actually makes it to the Senate floor (if, that is, the House does their part in all of this) I expect the Democrats collectively will realize that Senate Republicans will be put in a somewhat awkward position. 

I previously said that I'd set the betting line at 58 votes for the reconciliation bill in the Senate if the main bill has already been signed into law -- and that I'd take the over.  I'll stick with that, and add that I think there's a better chance of it getting over 60 than of it getting fewer than 55 votes. 

Which also means that if the patch bill does have to come back to the House because the Republicans successfully knock out or add a provision, it will be an easy vote for the House, too.  There's only one tough vote remaining (on's possible that Republicans can force tough votes on amendments), the House vote on the Senate bill. 


  1. Expanding on Jonathan's contention that the reconciliation sidecar might get some Republican votes (I'd say more likely than not), I would not be surprised if the Senate Bill gets the votes of a few House Republicans provided everyone votes confident that Pelosi has the Dem votes to pass.

    A Republican in a liberal district is in the exact opposite position as a Democrat in a conservative district:

    That Republican will want the Bill to fail (demoralizes Democrats) but wants to vote for the Bill because it is popular in his district.

    However, the Republican does not want to be the deciding vote passing HCR, because that would subject him to a national blizzard of Republican hatred.

    This seems far-fetched so long as HCR polls poorly, but its popularity really is rising and the economy seems to be turning up as well. Republicans in liberal districts might be detecting a less favorable wave come November.

    I'm not enough of a political junkie to know if there are any Republican reps from liberal districts, except Cao. If that is the case, never mind.

    Emily Litella

  2. I've been arguing for a while that if the House and Senate Dems could get past their silly (if understandable) trust issues, they shouldn't even try to pass the sidecar until a week or two after the House passes the Senate bill. Have a signing ceremony and big party on THAT and let it be known that with all its warts, health care is now the law of the land. Let that sink in for a little while. Then launch an effort to clean it up with the sidecar bill of amendments to the Senate bill. At that point, any Republican obstructionism can be shown as an attempt to PROTECT the Nebraska, Louisiana, and Florida deals and the rest. LET 'EM defend that. You'd probably be able to pass the amendment without reconciliation and get the full 60 votes. Which then makes all of the stupid procedural objections more obviously stupid.

    OTOH, the Dems current gyrations to try to somehow vote on the sidecar WITHOUT ever having to vote on the Senate bill doesn't pass the stink test. It looks sleazy and doesn't help their cause at all. Vote on the damn thing explaining that you'll fix it in a couple of weeks and then fix it. Don't try to pretend you're not voting on it!

  3. Lawrence O’Donnell on Morning Joe just explained why ObamaCare isn't going to pass.

    The media has made the mistake of thinking it had to pass, the Democrats control everything, blah, blah, blah... The media has been blind to the way the legislative process really works. Especially the process of the Senate. The press cannot will ObamaCare into law.

    This is why so many bills fail to get enacted into law - the House and Senate cannot agree. This is where ObamaCare is - the two houses don't agree.

    Last Saturday, I thought Pelosi would be able to twist enough arms to pass the Senate bill and it would become law - and no further changes would happen. O’Donnell frequently comes across as stark-raving-mad, be he just made the clearest explanation I’ve seen – it aired at 7:00. He’s right, it isn't going to pass - that's my prediction, too.


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