With all due respect to my fellow blogger, I think most, if not all of the reconciliation talk is a red herring.
As Rich Lowry, Jeffrey Anderson, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Yuval Levin have pointed out today, if–and this is the big “IF”–the House passes the Senate bill, which is the first step in reconciliation according to Keith Hennessy, then Obama will have a bill on his desk that’s been passed by both chambers of Congress; at that point, Obama can just sign it and call it “game over.”
Fortunately, right now it looks like Pelosi doesn’t have the votes in the House to pass the Senate bill, especially if Stupak and other pro-life Democrats stand by their promises not to vote for any bill that doesn’t have the Stupak Amendment as part of it (as the Senate bill does not).
However, I would caution everyone to be careful not to get distracted. The key is the House… if the Senate bill doesn’t pass the House, ObamaCare is pretty much stalled.
A couple of stories have been pointed out by NRO’s Doctor! Doctor! blog, but no one there has posted on the connection between the two, so permit me to do so.
First off, as I said yesterday, one of the big problems is going to be getting the House to either accept the Senate’s language or getting the Senate to accept a conference bill.
Now, according to Senate Budget Commitee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), if the final bill isn’t close to the Senate version, they won’t be able to break a filibuster. One of the big hurdles will be the public option, since the House bill has one and the Senate doesn’t.
However, an even bigger hurdle could be the Stupak Amendment (technically, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) that’s in the House version. They tried using that language in the Senate, as an amendment, and it failed.
Now, add to that the admission from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) that the Stupak amendment got them 10 votes in the House, and that without it they would have gotten 212 to 214 votes for their bill, and the problem becomes clear: the bill won’t clear the House with only 214 “aye” votes, you need 218.
In short, if the conference bill doesn’t contain the Stupak language, it probably doesn’t get past the House. If it does, it might not make it out of the Senate.
Update: Welcome, Doctor! Doctor! readers, and thanks to Mr. Costa for the link.
It’s not getting much play in the Lefty Dinosaur Media (for obvious reasons), but on Sunday the Senate had another vote on an amendment to keep Medicare from being cut, and once again, less than 60 Senators voted with Mr. Reid, indicating once again that he probably doesn’t have the votes for cloture (which takes 60)
On this one, Senators Bayh, Nelson, and Webb voted with the GOP, and Senator Byrd wasn’t voting, so the Democrats could only muster 56 votes. While it defeated the amendment (thus keeping the main bill’s Medicare cuts intact), it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Reid cannot depend on Nelson or Webb to vote for cloture, and Bayh is looking like he’d not vote for it, either.
Given that over the weekend, Joe Lieberman (a titular Independent Democrat who nonetheless caucuses with the Democrats) gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he said not only that the public option would have to go before he could vote for cloture, but also that he wouldn’t accept any “fig leaf” such as an opt-in, opt-out, or trigger, it seems that Reid probably can’t count on his vote if there’s a public option in the bill; but if Reid takes it out, the Senate liberals have declared that they won’t vote for it either.
Reid is in real trouble… if, as it appears, he can only count on 56 or 57 Democrats, he and President Obama can woo lefty Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe all he wants and it still won’t get enough votes to invoke cloture.
One aspect of the GOP strategy to defeat socialized medicine is becoming pretty clear: offer amendments that highlight some of the most controversial parts of the bill and force the Democrats to go on record with a Yea-or-Nay vote on them. Here’s a few of them, courtesy Reuters:
- A motion to send the legislation back to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to strike from the bill more than $400 billion in spending cuts for the Medicare government healthcare program for the elderly. The measure was offered by Republican Senator John McCain. It is not expected to pass, but the amendment allowed Republican opponents to highlight Medicare spending cuts in the bill and possibly build opposition to the healthcare reform among the elderly, a key voting bloc for next year’s congressional elections.
- Republican Lisa Murkowski offered an alternative to the Mikulski amendment on preventive care. The Murkowski proposal would ensure women have access to preventive screenings and that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations are ignored. It would also ensure that abortion or abortion services are not classified as a preventive services.
- Republican Tom Coburn, a physician who adamantly opposes the healthcare reform, plans a series of amendments to draw attention to the 2,074-page size of the overhaul legislation as well as its potential costs at a time of record deficits. One amendment would require senators to read the bill and obtain an official cost estimate on the final version from the Congressional Budget Office. The measure would likely delay any final Senate vote. Another would require members of Congress to enroll in the proposed new government health insurance option.
This is actually a pretty good strategy, for two reasons. First, it slows down the process, which is actually what the Senate was designed to do (George Washington, according to the Senate’s own website, is said to have told Thomas Jefferson that the function of the Senate was to “cool” House legislation in the same way that a saucer was used to cool tea back in that day). The Democrats oppose slowing things down, of course, because they see public support eroding rapidly and don’t want the debate to spill over into the election year of 2010; Republicans want to slow it down in order to take advantage of those two things.
Second, if the Democrats are forced to give a Yea-or-Nay vote on these controversial parts of the bill–or even a Yea-or-Nay vote on even debating such an amendment–they will find it very hard to later repudiate these stands without echoing John “I Voted For The $87 Million Before I Voted Against It” Kerry, and we all know how successful that particular explanation was. So, they will start voting to keep their seat, which, given the Tea Parties and Town Halls we’ve seen, means that in order to keep their seat, they’ll have to vote against this bill.
That’s why I call it the Death By A Thousand Votes. Let’s hope it works.
More problems with government-run health care from, where else, one of the pioneers, the United Kingdom:
Poor nursing care, filthy wards and lack of leadership at Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust led to the deaths of up to 400 patients a year.
Figures compiled by a health watchdog showed death rates at the Essex trust were a third higher than they should have been.
Among the worst failings discovered by the Care Quality Commission were a lack of basic nursing skills, curtains spattered with blood on wards, mould in vital equipment and patients being left in A&E for up to ten hours.
Ahh, but these two are the only ones having problems, right?
The watchdog report comes just months after an investigation into Mid-Staffordshire NHS foundation trust found similar problems, with up to 1,200 avoidable deaths.
Hmm. Okay, but we know that the folks who let this happen are going to be fired, of course.
The CQC report has now been passed on to Monitor, the organisation in charge of foundation hospital trusts.
Monitor has the power to replace the management at the trust but it is understood none of the board members have yet been threatened with losing their jobs.
Yep, that’s government-run health-care for ya. Needless deaths, but the bureaucrats who let it happen get to keep their job regardless.
I’d like to use Yuval’s post as a jumping-off point. He points out, I think correctly, that the House vote makes it even harder for the Senate to pass anything. However, it also makes more problems for the Democrats.
This was clearly an unpopular vote… that’s the clear meaning of all the rallies and town halls, including 9/12 and the rally on the steps of the Capitol last Thursday. Let’s also remember that not all voters read blogs or research things online. Top that with anger at the Democrat Party as a whole, and you’ve got the perfect set-up for large numbers of people saying, “To heck with the whole party. I don’t care if my Democrat Representative did vote against it, we need to take the majority away from them and the Speakership away from Pelosi, so I am voting against him/her.” Thus, it’s highly likely that Pelosi has won a battle, but in such a way that she’s set herself up to lose the overall war.
It was also unnecessary. Not only is it unlikely to pass in the Senate, even without the House vote (Reid had said before the vote that it was likely the vote in the Sente would be pushed back into 2010, where it will be even harder to get it passed because of the election that year), but if Pelosi had even the slightest concept of good politics, she could have gone about it completely differently and probably succeeded.
Consider: If Pelosi had backed off of this takeover of the health-care system by the government for just a little while, put her ideology in a desk drawer somewhere, and gone on to policies that actually encourage job creation, it would have changed the playing field drastically. People would have been reassured about the Democrats (falsely reassured, but remember most people don’t pay the kind of attention to politics that bloggers and blog-readers do), and feeling better about the economy, so they might not have been so scared about this massive government power-grab.
Now, I admit, it’s a small chance, but a small chance is better than what Pelosi has now, which is practically no chance of it getting through the Senate, and an equally minuscule chance of a Democrat majority surviving to try again after 2010. People have made much of the Democrats’ willingness to sacrifice their House seats to enact statist health-care, but what about sacrificing for a maneuver that makes it all but impossible for it to be passed?
By pushing too hard, Her Speakerness has essentially buried the prospects for socialized medicine in this nation for the near future.
A leaked report reveals the gory details:
The House Dem leadership has conducted its preliminary whip count and has tallied up less than 200 likely Yes votes in support of a health care reform bill with a robust public option, well short of the 218 needed for passage, according to an internal whip count document I’ve obtained.
The document — compiled by the office of House leader James Clyburn — was distributed privately at a meeting between Clyburn and House progressives today where the fate of the public option was the subject of some contentious debate, with liberals demanding that House leaders push harder to win over votes.
Clyburn spokesperson Kristie Greco would only say: “We currently do not have the votes for a robust public option.”
Health care reformers are eagerly awaiting the House vote count numbers on the robust public option — which would reimburse providers at Medicare rates plus five percent — because a House bill with a strong public option would increase the of leverage House leaders in upcoming conference negotiations with Senate leaders over the final bill. The exact count has been hotly debated in political circles since last week.
The actual count?
The document shows that 47 House Dems are committed No votes, and eight are Leaning No, for a total of 55. That means of 256 House Dems, just under 200 remain, and a dozen of those are listed as undecided. The bill needs 218 votes for passage.
What this also means, ladies and gentlemen, is that your voices at town halls, tea parties, on the phones, in emails and snail mails are being heard!
However, even though we’re winning, it’s not time to let up and head back to the La-Z-Boy. We need to keep the pressure on until at least the 2010 elections when we can run enough Obamacrats (meaning those Democrats that reflexively side with Obama on everything) out of office to keep this thing in its grave.
So, I will reiterate a call I have made before… tell not only your Representative and Senators, but any that are wavering that if they vote for this, not only will you not support them (and will vote against them if you’re in their district), but that you’ll actively and financially support their opponent in the next election. Remember, always be polite when speaking to staffers, even if they’re rude to you… they are just doing their jobs, they’re getting lots of flak, and you need to be more reasonable than they are.
Along the same lines, Politico has given us a list of those Senators currently seen as wavering… use this as a starting point for your calling list.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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