How Reform Bill(s) Could Become Law
By Ben Pershing
If yesterday's health-care narrative was all about message, today's is focused on legislative tactics, not about selling a reform bill but the mechanics of getting one passed.
The Wall Street Journal writes, "The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes." Under that scenario, Democrats would move a big chunk of their bill under reconciliation, which would only require 51 votes to pass. The Journal pegs the chance of that happening at an oddly specific 60 percent. But are leaders really that serious about this idea, or is it another threat designed to increase pressure on Republicans and moderate Democrats? The Washington Post reports leaders "have not, however, stepped up preparations to draft a Democratic bill or to use ... reconciliation" to get a measure through. Politico notes President Obama "would face a minefield of obstacles under the reconciliation process because opponents could strike anything from the bill that the Senate parliamentarian deems not directly related the budget."
Perhaps instead of two bills, Democrats just need to move a smaller bill. Chuck Grassley told the Post that after seeing so much anger at town-hall meetings, he believes "lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort." Kaiser Health News says that many experts agree with Grassley that "Democrats will have to scale back the cost and scope of the legislation to get something through Congress this year." Obama, meanwhile, said Wednesday that passing health-care reform was ""a core ethical and moral obligation." He will attempt to reach two different audiences on health care today, reaching out to conservatives through Michael Smerconish's radio show before preaching to the choir a bit at an Organizing for America rally.
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Posted at 8:36 AM ET on Aug 20, 2009
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